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State Supreme Court tabs Rita Garman as new chief justice

SPRINGFIELD-As expected, the Illinois Supreme Court Thursday named Justice Rita Garman to become the court’s next chief justice, making her the second woman to head the state’s high court.

The Danville Republican will take over from Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride after his term concludes Oct. 25. Garman will serve as the state’s top jurist for a three-year term.

Garman, who was chosen for the slot by a unanimous vote of the justices, was appointed to the court in 2001 to fill the vacancy left by former Justice Ben Miller, who retired. Garman was elected to a 10-year term on the court in 2002 and retained by voters for a second full term last year.

“I am honored and humbled to have been chosen by my colleagues to serve as chief justice,” Garman said in a prepared statement. “The office has been held by many great jurists, several of whom I have served with and count among my friends.

“I welcome the challenges and the responsibility that go with the role of chief justice because I know I can count on the support of my colleagues at all levels of the judiciary and the members of the Illinois bar,” she said.

Garman has been a judge in Illinois since 1974 and becomes the second female chief justice, following Justice Mary Ann McMorrow to that post. McMorrow died earlier this year.