MT. VERNON – Circuit Judge Melissa A. Morgan has been elected Chief Judge of the Second Judicial Circuit of Illinois for a two-year term beginning January 1, 2022. Judge Morgan was recently elected to the position by her fellow Circuit Judges, and she succeeds the Honorable Thomas J. Tedeschi, Franklin County Resident Circuit Judge, who concluded his term as Chief Judge on December 31st.
The Second Judicial Circuit encompasses the 12 southern Illinois counties of Crawford, Edwards, Franklin, Gallatin, Hamilton, Hardin, Jefferson, Lawrence, Richland, Wabash, Wayne and White. The circuit is served by 15 Circuit Judges, 12 of whom are elected by their resident counties and 3 of whom are elected circuit-wide. The circuit is also served by an additional six appointed Associate Judges.
Judge Morgan has served as Circuit Judge since 2006 when she was elected circuit-wide to succeed the Honorable George W. Timberlake, Circuit Judge, and former Chief Judge, upon his retirement in December of 2006. At that time, Judge Morgan became the first female elected as a circuit-wide judge for the Second Judicial Circuit. Now, having been elected to this position by her colleagues, she is the first female ever elected Chief Judge for the circuit.
The position of Chief Judge is called for by Article VI of the Constitution of the State of Illinois and subject to the authority of the Illinois Supreme Court, the Chief Judge has general administrative authority over the judicial circuit. Duties of the Chief Judge include assignment of judges and court reporters to particular counties, dissemination of information to judges and officers of the court, administration of the circuit’s Court Services/Probation Department, and interaction with the Circuit Clerks of each county.
Judge Morgan received her Bachelor of Arts Degree and her Juris Doctorate Degree from Southern Illinois University and the SIU-C School of Law. She began her legal career as an attorney with Land of Lincoln Legal Services, one of the largest providers of free civil legal services in the state, serving low-income individuals and senior citizens in 65 counties in southern and central Illinois. She also worked as a partner in private practice representing clients throughout southern Illinois before joining the bench.
As a Judge, she has served on the Illinois Judicial Conference Civil Justice Committee under appointment by former Illinois Supreme Court Justice and Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, the Honorable Lloyd A. Karmeier. Judge Morgan has presided over cases in every county in the circuit and will continue to do so in addition to her new administrative responsibilities.
The Chief Judge’s Office is currently located at the Jefferson County Justice Center in Mt. Vernon.
Persons may contact the Chief Judge by writing to 911 Casey Avenue, Mt. Vernon, IL or by calling 618-244-8036.