Lisa Holder White is first Black woman appointed to Illinois Supreme Court

Justice Holder White to replace retiring Justice Rita Garman

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The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed its first Black woman justice to replace the retiring Justice Rita Garman.

The court has appointed Justice Lisa Holder White, who currently sits on the 4th District Illinois Appellate Court, to fill Garman’s vacancy in July.

Holder White, 54, called the appointment the “honor of a lifetime” and thanked Garman and the rest of the court for their confidence.

Justice Lisa Holder White (credit: Millikin University)

“My service to the judiciary for the past 21 years has helped prepare me for this historic moment,” Holder White said in a statement. “I look forward to the privilege of resolving matters my fellow citizens bring before the court.”

Holder White, of Decatur, began her career as an assistant state’s attorney in Macon County. She then began private practice while serving as an assistant county public defender. She was named associate circuit judge in 2001 and circuit judge in 2008. She became the Illinois Appellate Court’s first Black woman justice in 2013.

Holder White has served as chairwoman for the Illinois Supreme Court Judicial Conference’s committee on education, which plans and provides continuing education for judges. She teaches at the bi-annual Education Conference, which all judges in the state must attend, and used to be an instructor for “New Judge School.”

Garman, 78, the state’s longest-serving jurist, announced Monday that she will retire July 7. She had been expected to seek retention to a third, 10-year term in the November election, but decided to step aside. Because there won’t be a vacancy before the June 28 primary election, Holder White will serve until the next election in November 2024.

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