DIXON – Another “first woman” milestone is being made, as Lee County Circuit Judge Jacquelyn D. Ackert becomes the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit’s first female chief judge, as of Wednesday.
Ackert was elected by her circuit judge counterparts to complete the term of retiring Chief Judge Robert Hanson, a post that will last until Dec. 1, 2023.
“I am truly honored to have been selected by my colleagues ...,” Ackert said in a news release.
“I will work hard to continue the tradition of excellence demonstrated by my predecessors. I look forward to working closely with my judicial colleagues, our justice partners, and all stakeholders in our circuit to continue to deliver the best possible legal services to our communities.”
Ackert was appointed an associate circuit judge in 2004, dividing her duties between Lee and Ogle counties. In 2006, Lee County became her primary assignment.
She was elected circuit judge in the November 2018 general election and the chief judge appointed her presiding judge in Lee County.
As presiding judge in Lee County, Ackert is responsible for administrative decisions regarding that county’s court; as chief judge, she will be work closely with the state Supreme Court and its initiatives, meeting monthly with the 22 other chief circuit judges to discuss issues and set policy.
She will be responsible for the administrative decisions in the entire circuit, which encompasses Lee, Ogle, Carroll, Stephenson, and Jo Daviess county courts.
She will remain presiding judge, and will continue to hear felony, adoptions, bond calls, family cases and drug court.
Drug court is, in fact, one of her passions, and, as the longest-serving drug court judge in the state, she was honored for her service in May.
She has presided over the program since 2006, and over every one of the more than 150 graduates to have completed the program.
Drug court is a structured judicial intervention program that works with the state’s attorney’s office, the public defender, treatment agencies, probation, and peer mentors to reduce drug addiction and recidivism.
Ackert earned her bachelor of science degree from Southeast Missouri State University in 1989 and her juris doctorate degree from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 1992.
She worked in private practice and as an independent contractor public defender from 1992 until her appointment to the bench in 2004. She is a member of the Lee County Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Illinois Judges Association.