After 5 years off, Whiteside judge ending retirement to serve on appellate court

Whiteside County Judge John Hauptman acknowledged some inconsistencies in the 
state’s case, but denied the defense motion.

MORRISON – After a five-year absence from the bench, former Whiteside County Circuit Court Judge John L. Hauptman is coming out of retirement to take a position with the Third District Appellate Court.

Hauptman, who retired Dec. 4, 2016, from the 14th Judicial Circuit Court, will fill the seat now held by Justice Vicki R. Wright, also a Whiteside County Court alumnus, who is retiring on Nov. 30.

His appointment is effective Dec. 1 through Dec. 4, 2022, following the November 2022 general election, state Supreme Court Justice Robert L. Carter said in a news release Tuesday afternoon.

“I am honored to accept this assignment to the Illinois Appellate Court and so grateful to Judge Carter and his colleagues on the Supreme Court for putting their trust in me,” Hauptman said in the release.

Hauptman was appointed associate judge in Whiteside County in 1997 and held that position for seven years. He was elected circuit judge in 2004 and retained for another term in 2010.

He was presiding judge during his tenure, and also helped launch the county’s Drug Court.

Before that, he worked in private practice, and before that was a Whiteside County assistant state’s attorney for six years after graduating in 1978 from John Marshall Law School in Chicago.

Vicki Wright was elected in November to her second 10-year term as a judge for the Third District Appellate Court, one of seven judges in the district that includes Whiteside County among its 21-county region. It’s the capstone to a career in law that’s spanned decades and built an enduring legacy of fairness, something she first got a taste for at her father’s diner.

Wright, a Sandwich native, started her law career as an appellate prosecutor for the Third District Appellate Court in 1982, after graduating from Loyola University School of Law in Chicago.

She became an assistant state’s attorney in Whiteside County in 1984 and was appointed the first female associate circuit judge for the 14th Judicial Circuit in 1991.

She became the first person from Whiteside County elected to the Third District Appellate Court in 2006.

The Third District covers 21 counties: Whiteside, Bureau, Fulton, Grundy, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Iroquois, Kankakee, Knox, La Salle, Marshall, McDonough, Mercer, Peoria, Putnam, Rock island, Stark, Tazewell, Warren and Will.

Go to for more information on Illinois appellate courts.

Kathleen Schultz

Kathleen A. Schultz

Kathleen Schultz is a Sterling native with 40 years of reporting and editing experience in Arizona, California, Montana and Illinois.