News Releases

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:  http://illinoiscourts.gov.

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Notice of Vacancy

 

The Seventeenth Circuit Court will celebrate its annual National Adoption Day Celebration on Saturday, November 19, 2022 at 9:00 a.m. at the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center. At this event, Judges John S. Lowry, Francis M. Martinez and Erin Buhl, along with Circuit Clerk Tom Klein, social service agency professionals and other court staff will volunteer their time to finalize adoptions for over 20 children previously residing in foster care.

National Adoption Day is a collective national effort to raise awareness of the more than 100,000 children in foster care that are ready for adoption and waiting to find permanent, loving families. On this day, members of the judiciary, attorneys and social service agency professionals from all across the United States work together to finalize adoptions and celebrate all of the families participating in adoptions.

There will be a press conference at the start of our National Adoption Day Celebration promptly at 9:00 a.m. on the 2nd Floor of the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center, 650 West State Street, Rockford, Illinois 61102. Cameras will be allowed for the press conference, but cameras will not be allowed inside any of the courtrooms. Participants may be available for interviews; however, we must ask that no parents or children be filmed without obtaining their prior permission.

 The social service agencies involved in this year’s National Adoption Day are the Department of Children and Family Services, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, Youth Service Bureau, Children’s Home & Aid Society, Greenlight Family Services, and Camelot Care Centers. For additional information, please contact Kimberly Ackmann, Deputy Court Administrator at 815-319-4831 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Judge Janet R. Holmgren, Presiding Judge of the Problem-Solving Courts Division, is pleased to announce that the Winnebago County Adult Drug Court will hold its 50th graduation ceremony on November 15th at 3:30 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Hall, 211 N. Main Street, Rockford, IL 61101. Ten Drug Court participants have successfully completed all of the Drug Court program requirements and will be honored at this graduation ceremony. Including these upcoming 10 graduates, a total of 737 participants have successfully completed Drug Court since the program began in 1996.

Drug Court is an intensive problem-solving court program that targets persons in the criminal justice system who are physically dependent upon drugs and/or alcohol. Participants voluntarily consent to participate in the program which provides them with a full continuum of substance use disorder treatment services in order to successfully achieve and maintain sobriety. A multi-disciplinary team of clinical and justice professionals closely supervise each participant’s compliance with treatment and probation supervision requirements and hold them accountable through frequent court appearances before Judge Holmgren, random and frequent drug testing, and intensive probation supervision.

“The purpose of Drug Court is to improve the quality of life for the individual participants, their families and our community by restoring them to a safe and sober lifestyle which in turn dramatically reduces the likelihood that they will commit new offenses because of their addiction,” stated Judge Holmgren. “Each of our graduates has a compelling story about the destructive impact and struggles caused by their disease and how they utilized the resources and supports of Drug Court, make it possible for them to restore and rebuild their health and relationships with their families, keep and retain employment and/or pursue their education and overall, giving them the opportunities to be positive, contributing members of our community.”

For more information about Drug Court and this upcoming graduation ceremony, please feel free to contact Emily Behnke at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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The Winnebago County Courthouse, located at 400 West State Street, Rockford, Illinois 61101 is OPEN.

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.

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.  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 this page.  

A Virtual Courtroom Directory is available.  Only parties to cases should attempt to join a virtual courtroom.   Public access to Virtual Courtroom proceedings is made available via our YouTube Livestream Directory.

Please watch a 6 minute video to prepare for Traffic Court.   Por favor mire el video de 6 minutos para prepararse para el Tribunal de Tráfico

 

Winnebago County Court Schedule -

Supplemental Calendar for Courtroom C - Judges Debra D. Schafer and Jennifer J. Clifford

Schedule final 2023 01 25 v2


Individuals seeking emergency orders of protection in Winnebago County may come to the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center for in person assistance or make use of the Court’s online request system.  A temporary Domestic Violence Assistance Center is open on the 1st floor of the Criminal Justice Center. 

 

The Kids' Place Facility in the lower level of the Winnebago County Courthouse is open.

 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 scheduling information.

Due to a fire that occurred in the Winnebago County Courthouse during the evening Saturday, November 5, the 17th Judicial Circuit Court announces the following:

The Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center located at 650 West State Street, Rockford, Illinois and the Winnebago County Juvenile Justice Center located at 211 South Court Street, Rockford, Illinois 61101 REMAIN OPEN and all hearings in these two buildings remain set as scheduled. Individuals who have court appearances scheduled in the Criminal Justice Center (Courtrooms A, B, C, or D) or in the Juvenile Justice Center (Courtrooms 1, 2, or 3) should attend court as scheduled.

The Winnebago County Courthouse, located at 400 West State Street, Rockford, Illinois 61101 will REMAIN CLOSED on Tuesday, November 8All court hearings in the Winnebago County Courthouse scheduled on Tuesday, November 8 are cancelled and will be rescheduled, except as noted below:

The morning (8:00 am – 12:00 noon) Drug Court Call of Presiding Judge Janet R. Holmgren scheduled on Tuesday, November 8 in Courtroom 217 will be held entirely virtual (no in-person appearances) - Zoom Meeting ID 821 7161 1372.

The morning (8:00 am – 12:00 noon) Family Law Call of Presiding Judge Joseph P. Bruscato scheduled on Tuesday, November 8 in Courtroom 455 of the Winnebago County Courthouse will instead take place in Courtroom B of the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center, 650 West State Street, Rockford, Illinois 61102.

The morning (8:00 am – 12:00 noon) Misdemeanor Call of Presiding Judge John T. Gibbons scheduled on Tuesday, November 8 in Courtroom 315 will be held entirely virtual (no in-person appearances) – Zoom Meeting ID 895 4199 8371.

A Virtual Courtroom Directory is available on the Court's Website.

Individuals seeking emergency orders of protection in Winnebago County may come to the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center for in person assistance or make use of the Court’s online request system.

This is a fluid situation. In-person court appearances at the Winnebago County Courthouse are not expected to resume this week. The Court is in process of rescheduling cases, either as entirely virtual proceedings or in alternate locations. 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 scheduling information.

PDF of Press Release

Due to a fire that occurred in the Winnebago County Courthouse during the evening Saturday, November 5, the 17th Judicial Circuit Court announces the following:

The Winnebago County Courthouse, located at 400 West State Street, Rockford, Illinois 61101 will be CLOSED Monday, November 7.  All court hearings scheduled in the Winnebago County Courthouse on Monday, November 7 are cancelled and will be rescheduled, except as noted below with respect to specific Plenary Order of Protection hearings:

The Plenary Order of Protection Call of Presiding Judge Donald P. Shriver scheduled on Monday, November 7 at 1:30 pm in Courtroom 311 of the Winnebago County Courthouse will instead take place at on Monday, November 7 at 1:30 pm in Courtroom A of the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center, 650 West State Street, Rockford, Illinois 61102.

The Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center located at 650 West State Street, Rockford, Illinois and the Winnebago County Juvenile Justice Center located at 211 South Court Street, Rockford, Illinois 61101 REMAIN OPEN on Monday, November 7 and all hearings in these two buildings remain set as scheduled. Individuals who have court appearances scheduled in the Criminal Justice Center (Courtrooms A, B, C, or D) or in the Juvenile Justice Center (Courtrooms 1, 2, or 3) should attend court as scheduled.

During regular business hours, contact the Winnebago County Circuit Clerk's Office at 815-319-4500 for scheduling information.

No prospective juror needs to report per their summons in Winnebago County for Monday, November 7. Jurors may call the number on their summons for additional information.

Individuals seeking emergency orders of protection in Winnebago County may come to the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center for in person assistance or make use of the Courts Online Request System Additional assistance is available from Remedies and the Family Peace Center – Remedies 815-962-6102, FPC 779-348-7600.

Ongoing announcements and operational changes will continue be posted on the Court’s website.

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Judge Jennifer Clifford, Chairperson of the 17th Judicial Circuit Family Violence Coordinating Council (FVCC), announces that October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The community is encouraged to support the multiple community awareness activities planned throughout the month. Community awareness activities seek to provide education and honor those who have been impacted by violence in Winnebago and Boone counties.

The FVCC has planned many awareness activities throughout the month of October including a youth art contest, a community yoga class at Real Beautiful You, a movie screening and panel discussion of the movie Waitress, and a book discussion. The annual Shining the Light on Domestic Violence ceremony will be held at Rockford City Hall on Thursday, October 27th at 5:30pm. Additional information about planned events can be found on the attached 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 October where those in our community can learn about the various forms of domestic violence and prevention efforts against domestic violence that exist here in the 17th Circuit. We are thankful for the multiple organizations that partner with us not only in October but throughout the entire year to address our community’s response to domestic violence.”

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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Calendar of Events

 

Chief Judge John S. Lowry is pleased to announce that Deputy Court Administrator Kimberly Ackmann attained certification as a Fellow of the Institute for Court Management (ICM) at the National Center for State Courts.

The National Center for State Courts, headquartered in Williamsburg, Virginia is a nonprofit court organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to the state courts. Founded in 1971 by the Conference of Chief Justices and Chief Justice of the United States Warren E. Burger, NCSC provides education, training, technology, management, and research services to the nation’s state courts.

Since 1970, the ICM has delivered training and education to judicial branch personnel in emerging areas of court leadership and management concepts, case management, human resources management, court performance standards, and other areas deemed critical to professional development.

ICM Fellows complete a rigorous four-step process that measures an individual’s aptitude in court management, research, and executive leadership through three levels of certification. Ms. Ackmann joins eight other recent program graduates and more than 1,300 alumni who represent 49 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and 12 foreign countries. She is the first ICM Fellow to be certified in Illinois since 2011.

“The 17th Circuit Court is tremendously proud of Kimberly Ackmann and the dedication she has shown to attain this advanced level of career proficiency,” said Chief Judge John S. Lowry. “The personal drive needed to attain this national certification parallels with the drive, competency and creativity that she brings to her work on a daily basis.   Our court system thrives and continually benefits from Ms. Ackmann’s contributions to modernize court functions and enhance access to justice. She truly is an invaluable member of our court administration staff.”

Ms. Ackmann stated, “I have witnessed so many working in the judicial system go above and beyond. That motivation is contagious, and I wanted to do my part. It is a great honor to have been accepted into this program and work with court leaders from all over the country. I look forward to continuing this great work.”

Kimberly Ackmann is a graduate of Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin and Marquette University Law School. She has served as a Deputy Court Administrator since 2015.   In her role, Ms. Ackmann aids in management of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court and oversees a number of special projects including the Court’s Residential Foreclosure Mediation Program, Lawyer to Lawyer Mentoring Program, Judicial Speakers Bureau, and JusticeCorp Volunteer Program. She serves as the 17th Circuit Court’s Self-Represented Litigant Coordinator.

For more information about the ICM Fellows program, visit www.ncsc.org/education-and-careers/icm-fellows.

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Judges from Winnebago County and Boone County participated in a statewide initiative sponsored by the Illinois Conference of Chief Judges and the Illinois Judges Association to help local schools, students and community organizations prepare for success in the 2022-23 school year by collecting school supplies for the Boys and Girls Club of Fairgrounds.

Chief Judge John S. Lowry and Associate Judge Erin B. Buhl presented the donated items to the Boys and Girls Club of Fairgrounds and were able to tour the facility on Wednesday, August 3, 2022.  “It was an honor to donate backpacks and other needed school supplies on behalf of the 17th Circuit Judges,” said Judge Buhl.  “I am hopeful that our efforts will help these students get off to a great start for the upcoming school year.”

“The Illinois Judges Association and the Conference of Chief Judges are proud of the active judges in this state and their commitment to their communities,” said IJA President Justice Eileen O’Neill Burke. “We see firsthand what happens with students who are not supported in their schools. The approximately 1250 active and retired members of the Illinois Judges Association already provide many in-schools programs from reading to students through civics education. It was a logical extension to join with the Chief Judges for the entire state to help provide needed supplies for the school year.”

“The Conference of Chief Judges meets regularly to discuss policies and needs for the entire state,” said Chief Judge David Vancil, who is the Chair of the Conference of Chief Judges. “This collaboration with the Illinois Judges Association allowed our circuits to coordinate help many were already providing and to help the public know their local judges are truly here to help.”

For more information about this this event, please contact Trial Court Administrator Thomas Jakeway at the contact information above.  Additional information about the Illinois Judges Association is available at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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ADMINISTRATION OFFICE OF
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Winnebago County Courthouse Operations and Scheduling Page

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