How Rebecca Pallmeyer shattered a 200-year-old glass ceiling

By: Start TV Staff     Posted: June 17, 2020, 1:31PM

International Women's Day of 2019 is a day Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer will never forget. Her colleague, Judge Ruben Castillo, announced he would be stepping down from his post a year early, and with Federal law dictating the chief judge vacancy be filled by the district judge with the most seniority under the age of 65, his resignation cleared the way for Pallmeyer to become the first woman to be chief judge in the 200-year history of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.

"What drives me is a sense of how fortunate I am to have this position and what a large responsibility it is to be the face of justice in a society where very often people are suspicious of government, they're suspicious of one another", Pallmeyer said. "There's a lot of anger in the world. I want to be the person that brings order and resolution even if it's not what makes every litigant happy."

Prior to her appointment, she worked in private practice, served as an administrative law judge for the Illinois Human Rights Commission, and as a United States Magistrate Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. In 1997 Judge Pallmeyer was nominated by President Bill Clinton to a seat on the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Pallmeyer is well-known for presiding over former Chicago Governor George Ryan’s corruption trial.

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