The Illinois Fourth Circuit has announced the election of Kimberly G. Koester, Effingham County Resident Circuit Judge, as its new Chief Judge for the circuit. Judge Koester, whose two-year term will commence on June 1, 2017, was selected on April 7, 2017 by a unanimous vote of the other eleven circuit judges elected throughout the circuit. The Illinois Fourth Circuit, one of 23 Illinois judicial circuits, is comprised of nine counties, Christian, Clay, Clinton, Effingham, Fayette, Jasper, Marion, Montgomery and Shelby, is populated by nearly 250,000 citizens and is one of the largest geographic circuits in the state. Although the Fourth Judicial Circuit is a unified circuit, all nine counties of the circuit have separate courthouses and court is held in each county.
The Chief Judge of the circuit, among other administrative responsibilities, has general administrative authority over the courts in the Fourth Circuit and assigns the judges within the circuit. There are nineteen judges serving the Fourth Circuit, twelve elected circuit judges and seven appointed associate judges. Each of the judges of the Fourth Circuit may preside over cases in any of the nine counties and are assigned from time to time by order of the Chief Judge. The Chief Judge, whose office is situated in the Fayette County Courthouse in Vandalia is assisted by an administrative staff consisting of a trial court administrator and administrative secretary.
Judge Koester was first elected as the Resident Circuit Judge for Effingham County in 2006 and in 2012 was retained for her second six-year term by one of the highest percentage of the voters of the entire circuit. Before assuming the bench in 2006, Koester gained broad legal experience as assistant state’s attorney for Vermillion County, public defender in Jasper County, two-term elected state’s attorney in Jasper County and the general civil and criminal private practice of law. Koester, a member of the Illinois Judges Association, currently is serving on her second term of the Illinois Supreme Court Juvenile Justice Committee which she was assigned to by the Honorable Lloyd Karmeier. She also was a member of the founding Board of Directors of the Effingham County CASA organization and most recently serves on the board of the Effingham County Crisis Nursery.
Koester is a fourth generation Effingham attorney following her great-grandfather Harry Parker, grandfather Howard S. Parker and late father James S. Parker. Koester’s brother, Kevin S. Parker also serves as an Associate Judge in the Fourth Circuit. Koester resides in Effingham with her husband Greg of 30 years. Together, she and her husband have three children, Matthew, Kathryn (Roepke) and Michael, one grandchild Bentley and also enjoy the company of their two family dogs Bella and Munch.
On Judge Koester’s recent election, current Chief Judge Michael McHaney, who has served since April 1, 2014, commented as follows. “Judge Koester is a proven and respected leader, who will continue to guide the Fourth Judicial Circuit’s criminal and civil justice system with excellence”.
“I am honored to be given this opportunity by my colleagues. I have had the privilege of serving as the Effingham County Resident Circuit Judge for over ten years now. I believe that my background and experience in making judgments and handling administrative issues makes me well qualified to handle this position and I look forward to serving as Chief Judge. I have such great respect for the judicial system and my colleagues, both current and retired. I also want to thank Judge McHaney for all of his guidance and support.”