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Garman appointed Chief Justice

Published 09/12 2013 10:27PM

Updated 09/13 2013 11:24AM

DANVILLE -- A Central Illinois woman will soon be the top judge in the state. Rita Garman has been named Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court.

She was chosen unanimously by her colleagues Thursday. The Danville native will take over for Chief Justice Thomas Kilbride. WCIA-3's Amanda Porterfield sat down with Garman Thursday evening.

Garman says she's honored to be given this position, but the ride wasn't easy. It took a lot of hard work. She says she always knew she wanted to practice law.

"I've wanted to be a lawyer since I was 16. Couldn't have imagined I would be where I am today."

Especially since she started in the 1960's, when women typically stayed at home.

"People said things like 'what's a nice girl like you want to go and do that for?'"

But Garman didn't let anything stop her. She graduated with highest honors from the University of Illinois. Then, she went on to law school at the University of Iowa. She says finding a job when she got out was hard.

"People would tell me things like 'what would you do if we hired you?' No one wants to talk to a woman."

But someone did. After practicing private law for many years, she became a judge. First the Circuit Court, then the Appellate. In 2001, she was appointed to the Supreme Court.

"Hopefully, the lesson of my life is you can do whatever you want to do. Where the road is going to take you."

Garman has been part of initiatives like bringing cameras into courtrooms and updating technology. She will continue these plans as Chief Justice.

"To have my colleagues appoint me to this position, it is quite a wonderful thing."

Chief Justice Garman will officially take over and be sworn in October 26 at the Danville Courthouse.

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