chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.

Judge Judith C. Rice

Circuit Court Judge, 7th Judicial Sub-Circuit of Cook County, Illinois

After having been elected as Circuit Court Judge in the 7th Judicial Sub-Circuit of Cook County in the spring of 2014, Judith C. Rice was appointed to the bench by the Illinois Supreme Court on October 4, 2014. Judge Rice began her judicial career in traffic court handling minor traffic violations as well as criminal DUI cases. She was then transferred to the forcible entry and detainer court where she heard suits involving condominium disputes and eviction cases. Additionally, she was assigned to the Domestic Violence Court where she heard cases involving domestic violence and elder abuse.

In the Spring of 2019, Judge Rice was assigned to the Domestic Relations Division where she handled cases involving dissolution of marriage (divorce), child custody and support, maintenance, pensions and domestic violence.

On December 23, 2021, Judge Rice was appointed Acting Presiding Judge of the Domestic Violence Division by Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans. In this new role, Judge Rice has lead domestic violence judges and staff in implementing the expansion of access and services within the Domestic Violence (DV) Division. As a part of these efforts, Judge Rice has hired eight new court personnel, all of whom are 40-hr. DV trained. In June 2022, she organized a training on the SAFeR framework for all DV Division Judges, and has committed to providing ongoing, formal and informal, training and support to DV division judges and court personnel. Judge Rice safely reopened 555 W. Harrison St. to the public after it had been closed during the pandemic. She launched the After Hours Emergency Order of Protection (EOP) Pilot in September 2022, assigning only existing judges and court personnel. In this pilot, domestic violence survivors are now able to receive orders of protection outside of regular court business hours. She initiated the ongoing transfers of contested hearings in non DV-adjacent Stalking No Contact Order cases to the Municipal Branch courts. Additionally, Judge Rice collaborated with presiding judges of the Domestic Relations Division to create a process by which litigants attend remote EOP hearings with the most appropriate judge from either division. Judge Rice is also actively working towards increasing access to child support services, improving the Division’s data transparency, and partnering with Metropolitan Family Services (MFS) to bring senior and disabilities coordinators to 555 W. Harrison St. Also, Judge Rice supported the Legal Aid Society of MFS in bringing an Elder Justice legal team to 555 W. Harrison St. In reviving monthly stakeholders’ meetings at 555 W. Harrison St. and the Skokie courthouse, Judge Rice has reenergized healthy, interdepartmental discourse around issues impacting domestic violence. Judge Rice has also finalized the build-out of an additional EOP courtroom at the DV courthouse and is creating a fully-operational fourth civil call to address excessive call volumes on existing court calls. Additionally, she recently welcomed two newly-elected judges to the DV division. With all of this, Judge Rice continues to gracefully, compassionately and effectively manage judicial shortages, high volume caseloads and her administrative duties.

Prior to becoming a Judge, Ms. Rice held the position of Senior Vice President and Head of Community Affairs & Economic Development for BMO Harris Bank. In that role, she was responsible for overseeing the Bank’s community affairs, government relations, and community development activities, including community development lending and community investments. She has been recognized for her leadership and work supporting financial literacy by numerous organizations, including the Federal Reserve Board, the Illinois Council of Economic Education, and the City Colleges of Chicago.

In 1988, Rice began her legal career as a prosecutor with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (SAO) where she handled appellate cases, narcotics prosecutions and abuse and neglect cases in juvenile court. After leaving the SAO, she began an extensive career in city government. Her tenure with the City started with being appointed Assistant Corporation Counsel, and she subsequently served as Director of the Department of Revenue from 1993 until 1995. Rice was also elected as Chicago City Treasurer after serving as the first female commissioner of two of Chicago's key infrastructure agencies. She led the Department of Water from 1996 until 1999, and the Department of Transportation from 1999 until 2000.

Judge Rice serves on several non-profit community boards. She is currently on the advisory boards of the Uhlich Children's Advantage Network (UCAN) and the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center (CCAC). She is a member of the Chicago Bar Association, the Cook County Bar Association, the Women’s Bar Association, the Black Women’s Bar Association, the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago, the Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Equality, as well as the newly formed Illinois Supreme Court Committee on Domestic Violence. Judge Rice is also the treasurer of the Alliance of Illinois Judges, an organization formed to promote diversity in the judiciary to include more LGBTQ judges. Additionally, she is a member of the Chicago Network and previously served on the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation Board and the United Negro College Fund.

Born and raised in Chicago, Rice earned her law degree from John Marshall Law School in 1988, and graduated cum laude from Loyola University Chicago in 1981 with a bachelor's degree in communication.

Honors and Awards

  • National Forum for Black Public Administrators, Marks of Excellence Award, February 6, 2004
  • National Council of Negro Women, Merit Award, December 11, 2004
  • Nia Foundation, Leadership Award, June 17, 2005
  • Anti-Defamation League, Distinguished Public Servant Award, December 6, 2005
  • UIC - John Marshal Law School, Legacy of Opportunity Award, February 24, 2011
  • The American Banker, Most Powerful Women in Banking, Top Banking Team Award, 2013
  • 100 Club of Chicago, Visionary Leadership Award, September 19, 2013
  • Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Pride Community Service Award, June 24, 2019
  • The Decalogue Society of Lawyers, Hon. Charles E. Freeman Judicial Merit Award, July 7, 2022