News Releases

Circuit Judge Joseph G. McGraw has announced his retirement effective July 5, 2023. Judge McGraw was appointed as a Circuit Judge by the Illinois Supreme Court in January 2002 and was elected to his position in November 2002. He served as Chief Judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2017.

John S. Lowry, Chief Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit, commented, “Judge McGraw served with distinction as a leader, mentor and educator in the 17th Circuit and State of Illinois court system. His abundant wisdom, keen insights and dynamic personality will be deeply missed. I am grateful to call Judge McGraw my friend and colleague.”    

“It has been the honor of my life to serve the people of the 17th Circuit and the State of Illinois as a Circuit Judge for twenty-one and a half years,” said Judge McGraw. “My consuming passion has always been to render justice, individualized justice, one case at a time. Although this chapter is concluding, I look forward to serving in a new way in the future, as God directs.”

Judge Joseph G. McGraw is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A. - 1978) and Northern Illinois University - College of Law (J.D. - 1985). He was the Presiding Judge in Boone County from 2002 - 2003. He has served as the Presiding Judge of the Criminal Division from 2004 to present. In addition to presiding over a specialized gun offense felony caseload in Winnebago County, Judge McGraw also oversees PATH Court, a multidisciplinary court response to human trafficking.

Judge McGraw served as Chair of the Illinois Conference of Chief Judges from January 1, 2015 to January 1, 2018.  He is the current Chair of the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Equality, and an active member of the Illinois Supreme Court Special Committees on Judicial Ethics, the Access to Justice Committee, the Judicial Performance Evaluation Committee, and the Pretrial Practices Data Oversight Board. Judge McGraw is co-chair of the Illinois Family Violence Coordinating Council Steering Committee. He is a former member of the Minimum Continuing Legal Education (M.C.L.E.) Committee as well as the Supreme Court’s e-Business Policy Advisory Board.

He is a regular instructor for the Illinois Appellate Prosecutor’s Trial Advocacy Program, a current instructor on Deliberative Decision Making at the biennial statewide judicial Education Conference for judges, and a previous judicial Education Conference instructor on Post-Conviction Petitions, Extended Media Coverage, Administrative Issues for Supervising and Presiding Judges, and Human Trafficking. He is a former adjunct instructor at Rockford University and Judson University.

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