Kathryn Zenoff appointed to Appellate Court

The Illinois Supreme Court has assigned 17th Circuit Chief Judge Kathryn E. Zenoff to duty in the Illinois Appellate Court, Second Judicial District.

The assignment was effective May 10, and continues until further order of the Illinois Supreme Court.

Zenoff fills the position previously held by Justice Frederick J. Kapala, who was appointed as a federal judge in the Northern District Court of Illinois.

Upon notification, Zenoff said: “I am honored by the assignment, and look forward to the opportunity to succeed Justice Kapala and to serve in this new capacity. It has been a rewarding experience to act as Chief Judge of the 17th Circuit.”

Zenoff’s service on the bench dates to August 1995, when she was appointed to serve as an associate judge in the 17th Circuit. June 1, 1998, Zenoff was appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court as a circuit judge in the 17th Circuit, and in November 1998, was elected as circuit judge. In November 2004, Zenoff was retained in her position as circuit judge with voter approval.

In December 2003, Zenoff was elected as chief judge of the 17th Judicial Circuit by vote of the 17th Circuit judges, a position she has held ever since. Prior to being named chief judge, Zenoff also served as presiding judge of the Criminal Division in the 17th Circuit from 1998 to 2003.

As chief judge, Zenoff has also been the 17th Circuit’s representative at the Illinois Conference of Chief Judges, where she has served as chairman of the Specialty Courts Committee and New Chief Judge Orientation Committee, and as a member of the Jury Panel Representation Committee, Probation Committee and on the Committee to Revise the Chief Judges’ Manual.

Zenoff is also a member of the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Professional Responsibility, the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Probation Funding, the ISBA Task Force on Children’s Waiting Rooms in the Courts, the Illinois Judges’ Association, and the Illinois State, American and Winnebago County Bar associations.

During her tenure on the bench, Zenoff has presided over traffic, small claims, divorce, adoption, misdemeanor and felony cases. She has presided over numerous jury trials, and for the past two years, has presided over the Therapeutic Intervention Program (T.I.P.), Winnebago County’s mental health court.

In 1966, Zenoff facilitated and was chairman of the Children in our Courts Project of the 17th Circuit, work that resulted in the creation of The Kids’ Place in 1997, a free and supervised drop-in center for children whose parents or guardians are on business in the courthouse. Additionally, in June 2003, Zenoff facilitated and was chairman of the Community Mental Health Task Force, which resulted in creation of the T.I.P. Court; and in 2006, was instrumental in the creation of the 17th Circuit Pilot Project on Civility and Professionalism.

Zenoff has been involved in numerous civic organizations and received recognition for her volunteer work, including being awarded the YWCA Leader Luncheon XI Marcella Harris Award for Community Service in 1991, the Chamber of Commerce Forward Rockford Award in 1994, and the 2001 Athena Award for Effective Women Leaders.

Obtaining her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University in California in 1968, Zenoff earned her law degree at Columbia University Law School in New York in 1971. During her legal career, she has practiced law at firms in New York and Chicago, and worked as a prosecutor in the Cook County and Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s offices. She is married and has two adult children.

from the May 23-29, 2007, issue

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