News Releases

Judge Janet R. Holmgren, Presiding Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court Therapeutic Intervention Program (TIP) Court is pleased to announce the program celebrated its 33rd graduation ceremony on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 at 1:30 p.m. in Courtroom 217 at the Winnebago County Courthouse. Two TIP Court participants have successfully completed all of the TIP Court Program requirements, bringing the total number of Graduates to 199 since TIP Court began in 2005.

TIP Court is a specialized problem-solving court program that provides wrap-around therapeutic services and intensive court supervision to persons in the criminal justice system who have a serious and persistent mental illness. The program is voluntary and the average length of participation is two and a half years. The goals and purpose of TIP Court is to provide participants with the treatment and case management services they require to help them achieve stability and maintain recovery and in turn, dramatically reduce the likelihood that they will commit new offenses. A multi-disciplinary team of clinical and justice professionals closely supervise each participant’s compliance with treatment and probation supervision requirements. Participants are held accountable for complying and completing their treatment plan requirements through intensive probation supervision and frequent court appearances before Judge Holmgren.

Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.for more information about TIP Court and the 33rd graduation ceremony.

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Please see Press Release from the Illinois Supreme Court - PDF

Further, please note the following with respect to the conversion of at-large judgeships and applicable residency requirements:

Per Section 2f-6 of the Circuit Courts Act (705 ILCS 35/2f-6), on and after December 2, 2024, the 17th Judicial Circuit will be divided into 2 subcircuits (currently there are 4). This section further provides that all vacancies in at-large judgeships occurring on/after January 1, 2022 are to be converted to resident subcircuit judgeships and allotted in numerical order to the two subcircuits. As such, the vacancy created by the retirement of Judge McGraw will be converted and allotted to the First Subcircuit and filled by election in the 2024 election cycle. To this extent, candidates wishing to run for this current Circuit Judge vacancy in 2024 must reside within the boundaries of the First Subcircuit.

First Subcircuit map boundaries have not been finalized nor officially released yet by the Illinois State Board of Elections.  For reference purposes only, please refer to this unofficial First Subcircuit boundaries map.

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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Judge Jennifer Clifford, Chairperson of the 17th Judicial Circuit Family Violence Coordinating Council (FVCC), announces that April is Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month. The community is encouraged to support the multiple community awareness activities planned throughout the month, beginning with Wear Blue Day on April 7th. Community awareness activities seek to provide education and honor those who have been impacted by child abuse in Winnebago and Boone counties.

The FVCC has planned awareness activities throughout the month of April including its annual Hands Around the Courthouse event scheduled for April 27th at 12noon at the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center located at 650 W. State St. This year, Boone County will host an inaugural Hands Around the Park event on April 14th at 12noon at Big Thunder Park across from the Boone County Courthouse.

Additional information about planned events can be found on this calendar or by visiting the 17th Judicial Circuit Family Violence Coordinating Council Facebook page. Honorable Jennifer Clifford commented, “We have several opportunities throughout the month of April to learn about the tremendous impact of child abuse and neglect in both the Winnebago and Boone County communities as well as the amazing organizations that help children and their families. We are thankful for the multiple organizations that partner with us not only in April but throughout the entire year to address our community’s response to child abuse and neglect.”

The 17th Judicial Circuit Family Violence Coordinating Council is funded by the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority and serves Boone and Winnebago counties. The FVCC serves as a forum to coordinate community and professional efforts to address family violence, including domestic violence, teen dating violence, sexual assault, stalking, and child abuse. For more information about the work of the FVCC, contact Nicole Ticknor at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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February 23, 2023 – Marcia M. Meis, Director of the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts, and John S. Lowry, Chief Judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court, are delighted to announce that the 17th Circuit Judges have selected attorneys Scott R. Paccagnini and Amy K. Peterman as Associate Judges of the 17th Judicial Circuit.  These vacancies are based on the allocation of two additional associate judgeships granted to the 17th Judicial Circuit pursuant to the Associate Judges Act (705 ILCS 45/2.1).   Mr. Paccagnini and Ms. Peterman will both take their oath of office at a public swearing-in ceremony scheduled to start 4:00 pm on Thursday, March 9, 2023 at Veterans Memorial Hall, 211 North Main Street, Rockford, Illinois 61101.

“Both of these qualified attorneys bring a breadth of experience and devotion to public service, qualities which will translate well to the bench,” said Chief Judge John S. Lowry.  “We are confident they will serve the 17th Judicial Circuit with humility and integrity. We look forward to their service.”

Mr. Paccagnini received his undergraduate degree in English from Truman State University in 1998 and his Juris Doctor from Chicago-Kent College of Law with honors in 2002.  Since 2011, he has served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois (Rockford Office), where he is currently the branch chief.  His prior legal experience includes working as a trial attorney for the United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller and Currency and for the United States Department of Justice's Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section in Washington, D.C., and as a law clerk to Judge P. Michael Mahoney in Rockford.  Mr. Paccagnini has also served as an adjunct professor for Rockford University and Chicago-Kent College of Law.

“I am humbled at the opportunity to serve our community as an associate judge,” said Mr. Paccagnini commenting on his selection.  “This is a great honor and I look forward to joining the outstanding circuit and associate judges on the 17th Judicial Circuit.  I would like to thank my family and friends for their continued support.”

Attorney Paccagnini is a member of the Winnebago County Bar Association, the Rockford Federal Bar Association, and the National Federal Bar Association.  His involvement with community and civic organizations includes associations with Children’s Home and Aid Northern Region Advisory Council, Motherhouse Crisis Nursery, and Rockton Lions Club.   He is a member of the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council.

Ms. Peterman attended The George Washington University graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2003 with a B.A. in American Studies.  In 2009, she received her Juris Doctor from Northern Illinois University College of Law.  Ms. Peterman served as an assistant public defender in the Winnebago County Public Defender’s Office between 2010 and 2019.  Since 2020, she has worked for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, where she currently serves as Supervisory Regional Counsel for Winnebago and Boone Counties.

Commenting on her selection, Ms. Peterman stated, “I am truly humbled and honored by the opportunity to continue serving my community in this new capacity. As a lifetime resident, I am committed to continuing to invest in the growth, development, and betterment of a community that has given me tremendous support and opportunities.  I want to thank my family, friends, colleagues, and community for their continued encouragement and support on this new endeavor.” 

Attorney Peterman is a member of the Winnebago County Bar Association and the Illinois State Bar Association.  Her involvement with community and civic organizations includes associations with the executive board of the Roscoe Parent Teacher Organization, Boy Scouts of America, Rockford Rescue Mission, and the 317 Art Collaborative.  She has served as a volunteer mentor in connection with the court’s Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program and attended the Judicial Academy at the National Judicial College.

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The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts has announced the following certified list of candidates who have applied for the two associate judge vacancies granted to the 17th Judicial Circuit pursuant to the Associate Judges Act (705 ILCS 45/2.1):

Andrew J, Fisk

Roger Gustafson

Steven J. Kodie

Amy K. Peterman

Paul R. Vella

Jeffrey J. Zucchi

Alesandra R. Friend Laird

Erin C. Hannigan

Joseph B. Kosek

Derrick J. Schmidt

Glen R. Weber

David M. Gill

Erik K. Jacobs

Scott R. Paccagnini

Andrew T. Smith

Daniel T. Wilkins

The Circuit Judges of the 17th Circuit are inviting written comment regarding these candidates from all interested individuals and organizations. Comments must be in writing and received by the Chief Judge no later than 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 20, 2023. Anonymous letters will not be accepted. Letters will be placed in each of the candidate’s files. There shall be no other direct or indirect contact with any Circuit or Associate Judge regarding an individual’s candidacy.

Anyone wishing to comment should direct their correspondence by U.S. mail to Chief Judge John S. Lowry, Winnebago County Courthouse, 400 West State Street, Suite 215, Rockford, IL 61101 or by email to the Chief Judge’s Administrative Assistant This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Chief Judge John S. Lowry and Winnebago County Chairman Joseph Chiarelli are pleased to announce that the Winnebago County Courthouse, located at 400 West State Street, Rockford, Illinois 61101, will partially reopen to the public on January 9, 2023.

Individuals will be able to access the offices of the Winnebago County State’s Attorney, Winnebago County Public Defender, Winnebago County Coroner, and Winnebago County Jury Commission. The fourth floor courtrooms and traffic courtroom on the first floor will also be available for court proceedings.  Remaining areas in the courthouse remain under various stages of remediation.   A date for full re-occupancy has yet to be determined.

Certain Winnebago County court proceedings may be held in a location not listed on the original court notice. Similarly, virtual attendance may be the only option. The public is encouraged to check the status of scheduled court proceedings prior to the court date by viewing the “Winnebago County Courthouse Operations and Scheduling Page” on the 17th Circuit Court Website.  A standing court calendar has been created to provide greater certainty and increase jury trial capabilities until a full re-occupancy of the courthouse can take place.

The Office of the Winnebago County Circuit Clerk will continue to provide public services from a satellite office located on the 2nd floor of the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center (CJC), 650 West State Street, Rockford, Illinois 61102.

“The goal since the fire occurred on November 5 has been to return as quickly as possible but only when safe to do so,” said Chief Judge John S. Lowry. “Through the tireless work of remediation and industrial hygienist specialists, and with the approval of the City of Rockford Building Code Officials, the ability to safely return the public to the building and restore access to certain court offices and courtrooms is a positive step forward.”

“I’m proud of our quick actions following the fire which allowed us to maintain continuity of operations for the last two months,” said Chairman Joseph Chiarelli. “I want to thank our Winnebago County staff and Elected Officials for their commitment to providing these vital services for our residents, and we look forward to welcoming the public back into the courthouse soon.”

Individuals seeking emergency orders of protection in Winnebago County may come to the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center (CJC) located at 650 West State Street for in person assistance or make use of the Court’s online request system.   A temporary Domestic Violence Assistance Center is open on the first floor of the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center. Additional assistance is available from Remedies and the Family Peace Center – Remedies 815-962-6102, FPC 779-348-7600.

Ongoing announcements and scheduling changes will continue be posted on the Court’s website.  During regular business hours, contact the Winnebago County Circuit Clerk's Office at 815-319-4500 for assistance with case scheduling.

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Associate Judge Jennifer J. Clifford has been named as Chair of a newly formed Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Domestic Violence. This Committee is tasked with reviewing and making recommendations on matters affecting domestic violence, human trafficking, and the court system.

“Through neutral and informed approaches, the courts can better serve the needs of survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking,” said Judge Clifford. “I am humbled by the Court’s decision for me to guide this new statewide Committee.”

John S. Lowry, Chief Judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court, commented, “Her dedication, initiative and years of experience educating stakeholders working in the justice system make Judge Clifford a natural fit for this leadership role. The Seventeenth Judicial Circuit is honored to have Judge Clifford represent us on this Committee.”

Judge Clifford has served as an associate judge since December 3, 2018. She is currently assigned to the 17th Judicial Circuit Court’s Domestic Violence Coordinated Courts Division where she presides over felony and misdemeanor offenses. Since February 2022, Judge Clifford has served as the Chair of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court Family Violence Coordinating Council

Prior to taking the bench, she served as an Assistant State’s Attorney in the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office from 1998 to 2018. She received her undergraduate degree in Rhetoric and English from the University of Illinois in 1993, and her Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois in 1998. 

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ILSC Press Release

Chief Judge John S. Lowry is pleased to announce that the Illinois Supreme Court has authorized the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court to post a notice for two associate judge vacancies. These vacancies are based on the allocation of two additional associate judgeships granted to the 17th Judicial Circuit pursuant to the Associate Judges Act (705 ILCS 45/2.1).  

The application period for these positions will remain open until January 4, 2023. The notice of vacancy is provided below and is accessible at:

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Notice of Vacancy


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400 W State St
Rockford, IL 61101