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January 2021Volume 51Number 5PDF icon PDF version (for best printing)

‘Good Morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. My Name Is…’

As I recently exited our chief judge’s office and walked down the hallway to my chambers after discussing upcoming scheduling concerns regarding criminal and civil jury trials, I recalled that I had the good fortune to preside over the last major civil jury trial in our jurisdiction. COVID-19 has forced the 20th judicial circuit court and all Illinois courts to reexamine the daunting responsibility of just how to administer justice for all during the pendency of this deadly pandemic. If you would have posed to me back in March 2020 to define COVID-19, I readily admit the answer would have been suspect at best. My understanding would have lacked in substance and specificity. I probably would have asserted that terms like “contact tracing” or “PPE” or, better yet, “emergency use authorization” were drawn from a recent CSI episode I had recorded on my DVR.

As I sat back down in my office pulling up my docket for the next two days now being all held remotely via Zoom technology, I smirked because I could never have imagined hosting Zoom hearings on a daily basis. I began to also realize just how fortunate I have been over my nearly fifteen years on the bench. Currently, I have been given the opportunity by our chief judge to preside over a major civil docket. The right to trial by jury of our peers is sacred and its value to our citizenry has never been greater. Similar to so many things in life, one has a greater appreciation and clarity when that cherished thing is taken away, however brief.

I have been humbled during the course of the fast approaching 15 years to preside over dozens of jury trials to verdict. I have learned many lessons throughout and have witnessed outstanding litigators present their cases to the best of their God-given abilities. I have also observed with much admiration just how serious jurors took their oaths in rendering what they believed were fair and just. As I approach this one-year mark since I last presided over a jury trial, I am grateful for the hard work and leadership demonstrated by our chief judge and my judicial colleagues. Serving the voters of the 20th judicial circuit court has been and remains an honor. I look forward with fondness to our future when we will once again be welcoming prospective jurors for voir dire.

I believe I stand on solid ground when I say on behalf of myself and other Illinois jurists, “Good Morning, ladies and gentlemen. My name is…”


Heinz Rudolf was elected circuit judge in 2018 by the voters of the 20th judicial circuit consisting of Monroe, Washington, Perry, Randolph and St. Clair counties. Judge Rudolf has now served as a judge approaching 15 years, having been appointed an associate circuit judge in February 2006. His current assignment is major civil. In his current judicial career, Judge Rudolf has presided over 70 jury trials to verdict.

Judge Rudolf obtained a joint degree from Saint Louis University Law and Graduate School (J.D. and M.A.P.A.) in 1995. Following law and graduate school, he continued his education and earned his Ph.D in public policy analysis and administration from Saint Louis University Graduate School in 2002. While taking evening classes in the doctoral program, Judge Rudolf worked as an assistant state's attorney followed by his work as an assistant public defender in St. Clair County. Prior to his appointment to the bench in 2006, Heinz worked as an associate for the law firm of Becker, Paulson, Hoerner and Thompson, P.C. where he primarily concentrated in civil defense trial litigation. 

Heinz Rudolf was elected to the St. Clair County Board in 2002 and served until 2006 when he was appointed to the bench. Judge Rudolf had served for several years as a member of the Illinois Judicial Conference Committee on Education. He continues to teach on behalf of the Illinois Supreme Court and most recently taught in February 2020 at the Judicial Education Conference on behalf of the Illinois Supreme Court and the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts (AOIC).

Heinz Rudolf has served on the Children First Foundation Board since 2008. Judge Rudolf completed extensive coursework to become an A.S.T.A.R. Science and Technology Fellow in 2009. He has presented at numerous seminars hosted by the St. Clair County Bar Association, Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation, AOIC, IICLE, and ISBA. Prior to the closure of the Belleville campus, Judge Rudolf taught for several years as an Adjunct Professor for Lindenwood University courses in Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure. In year 2019, Judge Rudolf was formally recognized by the Illinois Judges Association by receiving the Outreach Award for presenting the I.J.A.’s w.w.w. cyberbullying and 7 Reasons to Leave a Party presentations to over 15,000 students at that point in time from grades 5-12 in public and private schools throughout all five counties of the 20th judicial circuit. End of year 2019, Judge Rudolf was honored to receive the Land of Lincoln’s Joseph R. Bartylak Award. Heinz and his wife have two children.            

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