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Rebecca Pallmeyer to be 1st female chief judge of Chicago’s federal court

Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer speaks at the Bicentennial Celebration of the Federal Courts in Illinois, Harold Washington Library, Friday, March 1st, 2019. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer will become the first woman to serve as Chicago’s chief federal judge after Judge Ruben Castillo steps down from the role this summer.

Court officials announced in a statement Thursday that Castillo will be stepping down on June 30, and Pallmeyer will succeed him on July 1.

“As I reflect on the 200th anniversary of our Court and on this International Women’s Day, I’m delighted to make way for the Northern District of Illinois to be led by its first female Chief Judge, Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer,” Castillo said in the statement. “I am extremely pleased to be followed by someone who so deeply loves our Court.”

Pallmeyer, born in Tokyo, Japan, was nominated to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton in 1997 and confirmed by the Senate in 1998, according to a statement from the U.S. District Court. She earned her law degree from the University of Chicago Law School in 1979 and has previously worked as an attorney, a law clerk at the Minnesota Supreme Court, an administrative law judge for the Illinois Human Rights Commission and a U.S. magistrate judge.

U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo

Chief U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo | AP file photo

Castillo received his law degree in 1979 from the Northwestern University School of Law, officials said. He has worked as a private attorney, a federal prosecutor and regional counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund before he was nominated to the federal bench by Clinton in 1994.

He was the first Latino federal judge in Illinois and became the state’s first Latino chief judge in 2013, according to the statement.