Who is Sangamon County Judge Raylene DeWitte Grischow, who blocked Pritzker’s mask mandate?

Shannon Limjuco, parent of a fifth-grader and second-grader in Community Unit School District 200, rallies in favor of requiring masks in schools outside the district’s headquarters in Wheaton on Monday, Feb. 7, 2022.

The Sangamon County judge who blocked Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker’s state mask mandate for schools is a relatively new judge, having been appointed in 2018 and then running unopposed for circuit judge in 2020.

Just more than 80,000 voters in the circuit that includes Springfield cast ballots for Judge Raylene DeWitte Grischow in the Nov. 3, 2020, election when she ran unopposed as a Republican to a six-year term.

Before her judicial appointment, Grischow was a partner in the Springfield office of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP. After being seated on Jan. 7, 2019, Grischow assembled a modest war chest of about $10,000 for her 2020 election, which drew no opponent. Most of her donors were law firms, according to state campaign records.

The Illinois State Bar Association recommended Grischow for election based on a bar poll in which 125 responding attorneys scored her abilities on a 100-point scale. She earned a composite score of 87 with scores of 90 or higher in integrity, impartiality, temperament and court management.

The temporary restraining order she issued Friday against the mask mandate will be appealed to the 4th District Appellate Court in Springfield. One of the justices who might hear the appeal is her predecessor, Justice Peter Cavanagh, also a Republican, who ran unopposed for the appellate seat in 2019.

Tom Collins

Tom Collins

Tom Collins covers criminal justice in La Salle County.