News Releases

The Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts announced the following certified list of candidates who have applied for the associate judge vacancy in the 17th Circuit based on the impending retirement of Associate Judge Mary Linn Green:

David M. Gill 

Erik K. Jacobs

Scott R. Paccagnini

Paul R. Vella

Roger H. Gustafson

Maureen M. Lawson

Amy K. Peterman

Tamika R. Walker

Erin C. Hannigan

Matthew R. Leisten

Andrew T. Smith

Jeffrey J. Zucchi

 

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 May 18, 2022. 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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

April is Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month. Judge Jennifer Clifford, Chairperson of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court Family Violence Coordinating Council (FVCC), announces the return of “Hands Around the Courthouse” on April 21, 2022 at 12:00pm at the front entrance of the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center located at 650 W. State St. in Rockford.

The community is encouraged to join the FVCC and their community partners, including Winnebago County CASA, Children’s Home and Aid, Children’s Safe Harbor and The Carrie Lynn Children’s Center at the annual event, returning following a two year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This brief ceremony will bring the community together to remember survivors and celebrate the work that has been done to improve the response to victims of child abuse and neglect.  

Chief Judge John S. Lowry will lead the event which will feature a survivor testimonial. At the end of the event, participants will surround the courthouse with blue ribbon and plant a blue pinwheel garden to honor survivors of child abuse and neglect and increase awareness around prevention efforts. This event is open to the community.

According to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, over 200,000 calls to the Illinois Child Abuse Hotline are made each year. In 2021, over 1,400 minors were involved in the Juvenile Abuse and Neglect court system in the 17th Judicial Circuit.

Judge Clifford, Chair of the Family Violence Coordinating Council; John Papiernik, Executive Director of Winnebago County CASA; and Jillisa Bondurant, Executive Director of Children’s Safe Harbor will be available for media interviews following the event.

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The Illinois Supreme Court has authorized the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court to post a notice of vacancy for the office of Associate Judge. This vacancy is based on the impending retirement of Associate Circuit Judge Mary Linn Green, effective July 5, 2022. The application period for this vacancy will remain open until May 2, 2022.   Please see the attached Vacancy Notice and additional information available on the Illinois Supreme Court Website.

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Associate Circuit Judge Mary Linn Green has announced that she will retire from her position on July 5, 2022. Judge Green was appointed as an associate circuit judge on March 6, 2009. Since November 1, 2010, she has presided over juvenile abuse and neglect court in Winnebago County.

John S. Lowry, Chief Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit, commented, “Judge Green has served the 17th Circuit with distinction. For over a decade, she has played a central role in protecting the rights of our community’s most vulnerable children and all parties involved in legal proceedings.”    

Judge Green is a graduate of the College of St. Teresa (B.S.N. 1974), Loyola University (1978 M.S.N. 1978) and Northern Illinois University College of Law (J.D. 1992). She received a Legum Doctoris, honorary Doctoral Degree, from Saint Anthony College of Nursing in 2010, for her professional contributions to the College. Judge Green received an award in 2013 from the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools, in recognition of outstanding service to the schools for her work in truancy prevention.

Judge Green is an organizer of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court’s annual National Adoption Day Celebration and helped to establish the 17th Judicial Circuit Volunteer Therapy Dog Program. She has worked closely with the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program (CASA) by teaching new volunteers about the court process and presiding over their swearing-in ceremonies. She is a member of the Illinois Judges Association, Illinois State Bar Association, and the Winnebago County Bar Association.

“It has been my honor and privilege to have served the 17th Judicial Circuit, and the citizens of Winnebago and Boone Counties,” said Judge Green. “I have loved this work, as it has allowed me to have a positive influence on the lives and circumstances of the children of our community. I have also been given the privilege of working closely with many committed and talented persons in the Court and Social Services Systems.”

During her time on the bench, Judge Green established a special program for all of the children who come into her courtroom. Through generous contributions from local citizens and organizations, especially the Rockford Ice Hogs, the conference room adjacent to her courtroom is filled with hundreds of new and gently used stuffed animals.   Each child is encouraged to pick out a stuffed animal to hold during court and then take home. She plans to leave this program in place for her successor in order to continue to bring joy and comfort into the lives of children.

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Based on authority granted by the Illinois Supreme Court, the 17th Judicial Circuit amended its requirements regarding masks in Boone and Winnebago Counties. Specifically, starting February 28, 2022, the wearing of a face covering or mask within any court facility is permitted, but not required. Persons choosing to wear a face covering or mask may be directed by a judge to remove their face covering or mask if deemed necessary for court purposes, such as when addressing the court or testifying. Please refer to the attached local court orders for additional details and other pandemic related information.

“This change in practice is consistent with the recent order of the Illinois Supreme Court and current community covid-19 metrics,” said John S. Lowry, Chief Judge of the 17th Circuit Court. “The court will continue to monitor its operations and further amendments could be necessary if covid-19 metrics warrant change. I note that individuals may attend court virtually unless they have been specifically directed to appear in person.”

 Additional information about virtual court appearances is available here.

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John S. Lowry, Chief Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court, is pleased to announce that the circuit judges of the 17th Circuit have selected Attorney Kathryn J. Cross as Public Defender for Boone County, Illinois.

Commenting on the selection, Presiding Boone County Circuit Judge Rob Tobin stated, “Ms. Cross is a skilled lawyer with a recognized presence in Boone County. She and her staff prove daily that the quality of legal services does not depend on the amount of money a client can afford. She is a star on the rise and I’m confident the office will continue to thrive under her leadership.”

“I am both honored and humbled to have been chosen as the Boone County Public Defender,” said Attorney Cross. “I look forward to leading an office that provides excellent representation to the indigent clients of Boone County.”

Ms. Cross completed her undergraduate studies at Monmouth College in 2008, and received her Juris Doctor from the University of Iowa College of Law in 2011.   Her legal career has been primarily dedicated to service with the Boone County Public Defender’s Office, where she has been employed since 2012. Attorney Cross has served as the appointed Interim Boone County Public Defender since December 2021.

Kathryn Cross is a current member of the Boone County Bar Association and the Winnebago County Bar Association, and has served as the President of the Boone County Bar Association since 2018. Her involvement with community and civic organizations includes judging, mentoring, and sponsoring the Monmouth College Moot Court Program, and volunteer work with the Second Chances Summit for sealing and expunging criminal records and the League of Women Voters of Greater Rockford.

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Chief Judge John S. Lowry announced that the Winnebago County Juvenile Justice Council will be led by two members of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court.   Associate Judge Donna R. Honzel will serve as the Council Chairperson. Judge Honzel currently presides over juvenile delinquency cases in Winnebago County. Taryn Marko, Deputy Director of Court Services Juvenile Division, will serve as the Council Vice-Chairperson.   The selection of both leaders for expected two year terms was made during a Council meeting on January 27, 2022.

The Winnebago County Juvenile Justice Council was officially established on December 14, 2021, pursuant to statutory provisions set forth in the Illinois Juvenile Court Act. The mission of the Council is to facilitate communication and awareness of community resources to decrease juvenile justice involvement for at-risk youth and families by establishing and maintaining partnerships across systems. More so, the counsel seeks to serve as a collaborative resource to align effective services for the prevention, intervention, rehabilitation, and reintegration of juveniles in order to create a positive change for youth, families and the community.

Regarding her selection, Judge Honzel commented, “I’m humbled by the trust placed in me by the voting members of the Juvenile Justice Council.  I believe suppressing the current juvenile crime situation requires a collaborative effort from every facet of the community.  The Council’s overarching goal is to spearhead that collaboration to benefit not only the juveniles of this area but also the community as a whole. I’m excited by the possibilities!”

“It is an honor to be a part of the Juvenile Justice Council,” said Taryn Marko. “I am looking forward to beginning this process with Judge Honzel and the Council members.”

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Chief Judge John Lowry reiterated the ongoing necessity of the Court’s public health precautions, and consistent with Administrative Order 2021-15, urged all attorneys and court patrons to use available online services and virtual court hearing options as permitted in their individual cases. Virtual attendance is generally permissible for attorneys and litigants for most court hearings unless a judge has specifically instructed an attorney or party to attend a proceeding in person.   Represented litigants should check with their attorney for direction on whether their presence is needed in person for particular court hearings. Visit the Court’s website at http://tinyurl.com/virtualcourt17 for more information about participating in virtual court proceedings.

“The Court is carefully monitoring its operations in light of the surge in Covid-19 cases caused by the omicron variant,” said Chief Judge Lowry. “We have invested in the necessary technology to offer virtual court options in all of our courtrooms, and as warranted, can easily transition to place greater reliance on virtual court hearings in response to this ongoing pandemic. I strongly urge attorneys and litigants to attend court hearings virtually whenever permissible and possible. This supports public health objectives by reducing the potential for Covid-19 case transmission in our community.”

All persons are required to wear a mask or face covering within public areas of all court facilities. Masks are to be well fit and worn properly covering both the mouth and nose. If visiting any court facility, please remember to bring a mask or face covering with you.

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Marcia M. Meis, Director of the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts, and John S. Lowry, Chief Judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court, are pleased to announce that the 17th Circuit Judges have selected Attorney Todd A. Ramlow as an Associate Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit.  This associate judge vacancy is based on the impending retirement of Associate Judge Joseph J. Bruce, effective January 30, 2022.   Mr. Ramlow will take his oath of office on Monday, January 31, 2022.

“Together with his substantial courtroom experience, Todd Ramlow’s work ethic, ability and professionalism will enrich the Circuit Court,” said Chief Judge John Lowry.  “We are confident Mr. Ramlow will serve in this role with humility and respect. He is a welcome addition to the bench.”

Mr. Ramlow received his undergraduate degree in business administration and economics from Rockford College in 1991, and his Juris Doctor from Marquette University of Law in 1994.  He is licensed to practice law in both Illinois and Wisconsin, and is admitted to appear before the United States District Court – Northern District of Illinois and the United States Court of Appeals – Seventh Circuit. Since 1999, Mr. Ramlow has been employed with the law firm of Brassfield, Krueger & Ramlow, Ltd.

Commenting on his selection, Mr. Ramlow stated, “I am extremely humbled for the opportunity to serve our community as an associate judge. The 17th Judicial Circuit is a strong court system, and I’m honored to join such a respected group of legal minds.” 

Todd Ramlow is a current member of the Winnebago County Bar Association, the Illinois State Bar Association, and the Wisconsin State Bar Association. His involvement with community and civic organizations includes association with Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity and volunteer work with the Northern Illinois Food Bank and the Salvation Army.

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John S. Lowry, Chief Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court announced the following list of candidates who have applied to fill the position of Boone County Public Defender:
Kathryn Cross
Matthew Jura
John Palmer
Frank Perri
Derrick Schmidt 
The Circuit Judges of the 17th Circuit are inviting written comments regarding these candidates from any interested individuals and organizations.   Comments must be in writing and received by the Chief Judge no later than 5:00 p.m. on January 14, 2022.  Anonymous letters will not be accepted.
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, Illinois 61101 or by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
PDF of Press Release

Marcia M. Meis, Director of the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts, and Eugene G. Doherty, Chief Judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court, are pleased to announce that the 17th Circuit Judges have selected Attorney Erin B. Buhl as an Associate Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit.  This associate judge vacancy is based on the impending retirement of Associate Judge John H. Young, effective January 3, 2022.   Ms. Buhl will take her oath of office on Tuesday, January 4, 2022.

“Ms. Buhl brings unique experience to the Circuit Court,” said Chief Judge Eugene Doherty.  “In addition to her time as an attorney, she has invaluable experience as an administrative law judge that will translate well to the job of an associate judge.  We are confident that Ms. Buhl’s abilities, as well as her excellent temperament and demeanor, will make her an outstanding member of the bench.”

Commenting on her selection, Ms. Buhl stated, “I am truly humbled by the opportunity to serve as an associate judge and I look forward to serving our community in this roll. I would like to thank my family, friends, and colleagues for their continued support.” 

Ms. Buhl received her undergraduate degree in Political Science from Rockford College in 2003, and her Juris Doctor from the DePaul University College of Law in 2007.  She has been employed with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services since 2013, and has served as a DCFS Administrative Law Judge since 2018. Her prior work experience includes family law practice at the law firm of Laura A. Epstein & Associates, LLC, and service as an assistant public defender with the Winnebago County Public Defender’s Office.

Erin Buhl is a current member of the Winnebago County Bar Association, the Illinois Association of Administrative Law Judges, and the National Association of Administrative Law Judges. Her involvement with community and civic organizations includes serving on the Winnebago County Kids’ Place Board of Directors, volunteering at BraveHearts Therapeutic Riding and Educational Center, and assisting with Winnebago County CASA trainings.

PDF of Press Release

Eugene G. Doherty, Chief Judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit, has officially posted a Notice of Vacancy for the position of Boone County Public Defender.

Employment responsibilities, qualifications, and instructions on how to apply are provided in the Notice of VacancyApplications must be received by 5:00 pm on Thursday, January 6, 2022. The vacancy will be filled by vote of the Circuit Judges in the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit.

Application for Appointment for the Office of Boone County Public Defender

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