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The Challenge
The newsletter of the ISBA’s Standing Committee on Racial and Ethnic Minorities and the Law

November 2002, vol. 13, no. 2

Profiles: Justice Rita B. Garman

Justice Garman started her path to distinction early on, graduating as class valedictorian from Oswego High School. She went on to receive highest honors in Economics at the University of Illinois and distinction at the University of Iowa College of Law. She began the practice of law back in her home state of Illinois in 1968 and steadily rose to her current position on the Supreme Court bench, where she has sat since 2001, filling the vacancy created by Justice Ben Miller.

The road to this position was paved by Justice Garman breaking down barriers and refusing to be confined by any glass ceiling. In 1974 she became the first woman selected to serve as a Judge in the Fifth Judicial Circuit. She stayed in that position for 12 years before being elected to a Circuit Judge position in the same circuit, and only one year later, being appointed Presiding Judge. In 1995, she was assigned to the Fourth District Appellate Court and elected into the position in 1996 where she served until her appointment to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Throughout her career, Justice Garman has consistently been recognized for her contributions to the Community and to women in particular. She certainly serves as a role model to any young women wondering what opportunities are open to them in Illinois, and was given the "Woman of the Year" Award by Business and Professional Women in 1988 and 1999. Her other awards and honors include the AAUW Woman of Distinction, The Athena Award, The University of Illinois Comeback Alumni Award and the "Paul Harris Fellowship" from the Danville Roatary Club, to name only a few.

Her judicial skill has also been recognized and lauded, being rated as "highly recommended" by the Illinois State Bar Association Judicial Evaluation Committee just this year in relation to her current race for the Supreme Court. She has shared these skills by serving on various committees and conferences including the Subcommittee on Judicial Education and Chairing the Illinois Judicial Conference Education Committee.

Justice Garman also has an accomplished family, including her husband, Gill Garman, an attorney with her former firm of Sebat, Swanson, Banks, Garman & Townsley, and two children, both college graduates, Sara and Andrew. We are pleased to have Justice Garman as a speaker at our luncheon on December 12, 2002 and hope that she will share the secrets of her success with all attendees.