First Woman to sit as Chief Judge on high court in 200 years

For the first time in its 200 year history, a woman will preside as chief judge over the Northern District of Illinois federal court.

Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer, who has spent more than two decades on the bench, will start her new role July 1.

"The most important thing is that I want to be a good chief judge, as good as the ones that have come before me, and set a standard for those that come afterwards," Pallmeyer said in a sit down interview with ABC 7. "I know that the women of the legal community feel a sense of joy as well that after decades of service as a member of this court, that I am now going to take the next step."

Judge Pallmeyer graduated from University of Chicago Law School and presided over the infamous corruption trial of Illinois Governor George Ryan.

"It was exhausting, and I think that was true for the lawyers as well," she said of the trial.

As for current corruption in Chicago and Illinois, Judge Pallmeyer said it is disheartening to see, but added this caveat.

"In the United States, we prosecute it," she said. "As distressing as it is to see person after person indicted and then convicted, there's also this sense that the United States attorney cares about this. The court system cares about it. We take action, we will sentence people, we do believe that this is something that should be rooted out and we will take aggressive action when we can."

Judge Pallmeyer will take over as Chief Judge of the Northern District from Judge Ruben Castillo who had to step down from that post a year early for Pallmeyer to meet the age requirement to step in.

"There have now been women in the pipeline for years and years and in my case decades. And that does say something about where we are as a society and a nation," Pallmeyer said.
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