Meet Judge Judy: the next
Illinois Supreme Court Justice

Judy Cates was born on April 22, 1952, and was raised in Belleville, Illinois. She attended Cornell University, receiving a B.A. in Government in 1973. She went on to receive her Juris Doctorate in 1977 from the Washington University School of Law – St. Louis. Before joining the Appellate Court, Judy Cates first practiced law as an Assistant State’s Attorney for St. Clair County, Illinois. After leaving the State’s Attorney’s office, she entered private practice, concentrating in complex litigation cases, such as personal injury, class actions, mass actions, sexual harassment, and corporate disputes. Justice Cates was engaged in the private practice of law for 30 years prior to being elected to the 5th District Appellate Court in 2012. She was admitted to practice law in Illinois, Missouri, and Florida, and maintains her licenses in these states. She remains a member of the Illinois State Bar Association, Missouri Bar Association, and Florida Bar Association, as well as her local Bar Association. She was also admitted to practice in many federal courts across the country and enjoyed a nationwide reputation. Justice Cates was the first woman to serve as President of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, was named one of the Top 50 Women lawyers in the State of Illinois, and recognized by her peers as a SuperLawyer with a Martindale-Hubbell rating of AV-Preeminent. “I was elected by the people, and therefore, I will appeal to them again to send me to the State Supreme Court in November 2020,” Cates said.

Judy L. Cates

Prior to being elected to the Appellate Court, Justice Cates taught Complex Litigation at the Washington University School of Law and Trial Advocacy at St. Louis University School of Law. Once elected, Justice Cates has served, and continues to serve, as a Moot Court judge for the S.I.U. School of Law and Washington University School of Law. Justice Cates served as the representative of the 5th District at the State of Illinois Judicial Conferences, teaching “Updates in Criminal Law” from 2012 to 2018. Justice Cates is a member of the Illinois Judges Association, the Illinois Bar Association (and member of the Bench & Bar Committee), and currently serves on a Supreme Court sub-committee developing a program for people to access the appellate court with the assistance of free legal aid. Justice Cates volunteers for that position. She is married to Darrell Cates, and they have three children – Dave, Lauren, and Robby.

  • Education: Washington University School of Law - Juris Doctor
  • Education: Cornell University - Bachelor of Arts, Government
  • Based in: Swansea, Illinois
  • Experience: The Cates Law Firm, LLC 2006- December 2012
  • Experience: Cates, Kurowski, Bailey & Shultz, LLC. 2003-2006
  • Experience: Korein Tillery 1997-2003
  • Experience: St. Clair County Arbitration Administrator - Arbitrator 1999- December 2012
  • Experience: U.S. Arbitration & Mediation Midwest, Inc. 1996- December 2012

“For ALL the People”

Throughout my legal career, I have advocated for social justice. I intend to continue that fight on behalf of all the people of southern Illinois when I am their representative on the Supreme Court. Similarly, as a lawyer and as a judge, I have fought to protect the rights of working people, children and seniors. That includes protecting others from being taken advantage of in the civil justice system. I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the lives of the people and worked hard to always get it right. Therefore, I will continue that fight ‘FOR ALL THE PEOPLE’ on the Supreme Court. 


If the people of the 5th Judicial District in southern Illinois send me to represent them on the Illinois Supreme Court, I will continue my commitment toward fairness and impartiality. Above all, I will remain a judge that everyone can trust – a judge committed ‘FOR ALL THE PEOPLE’.


J. L. Cates


Honors, Awards & Distinctions

  • “Partner in Education” Award” – Southwestern Illinois College November 2019
  • “Order of the Coif” – Washington University School of Law - July 2017
  • Illinois Appellate Legal Answers Advisory Committee April 2020
  • Martindale-Hubbell® - AV® Preeminent™ - 5.0 out of 5 rating
  • Super Lawyers 2007 – 12/2012
  • Top Illinois Lawyers 2007 – 12/2012
  • Top 50 Women Lawyers in Illinois 2012
  • Lawdragon 2011
  • Law Bulletin Leading Lawyers Network 2009 – 2010
  • Cambridge Who’s Who 2007 – 2008
  • Presidential Who’s Who Among Business and Professional Achievers 2008
  • Certificate of Appreciation for support of Project U.S. Weaving of the Ribbons April 2009
  • Honorary Captain – Belleville East Lancer Football Sept. 29, 2006
  • Board Of Governors Appreciation Award American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) Sept. 2004
  • Woman Of The Year – American Biographical Institute Board of International Research Spring 2004
  • Board Of Governors Chair Award American Academy of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS) Sept. 2002
  • “Kentucky Colonel” Commonwealth of Kentucky Aug. 2002
  • Who’s Who Registry of Business Leaders & Strathmore Directories, Ltd. 1995 – 1996 & 2007 – 2008
  • Honorary Member of the St. Clair County Legal Professionals Association June 2008

Charitable Donations & Organizations

  • Jane A. Katz Memorial Scholarship – Southwestern IL College
  • Sidney Katz Memorial Scholarship – Southwestern IL College
  • CASA
  • Belleville Area Humane Society
  • Society of St. Vincent de Paul – Western Catholic Union Boy Scouts of America – Greater St. Louis Area
  • Lessie Bates Davis Neighborhood House
  • Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Southern Illinois
  • Holy Family School – Granite City
  • Washington University School of Law Scholarship
  • Goodwill
  • Salvation Army

Adjunct Professor/Volunteer

2009; 2011;2013 – Present

Complex Litigation
2008 – Spring 2013

Trial Advocacy I
2008 – 2011

Professional Organizations

Years Active: December 2012 – Present

Years Active: July 2019 – Present

Years active: 5/1/78 – Present

  • ISBA Bench & Bar Committee 2008 – 2009
  • ISBA Judicial Poll Committee 2008 – 2009
  • ISBA Health Care Section Council 2003 – 2006; 2010

Years Active: September 11, 1984 – Present

Years Active: July 27, 1979 – Present

Years Active: 1977- Present

Years active: September 29, 1982 – December 2012

  • President.  The only woman to hold this office to date. 2006 – 2007
  • State Delegate to American Assn. For Justice 2007 – 2008
  • President-Elect 2005 – 2006
  • 2nd Vice President 2004 – 2005
  • 3rd Vice President 2003 – 2004
  • Treasurer 2001 – 2002
  • Legislative Chairman 2001 – 2002

Years active: March 3, 1983 – December 2012

  • Class Action Litigation group (past member)
  • Railroad Litigation group (past member)
  • Traumatic Brain Injury group (past member)

Years active: December 20, 1999 – December 2012

Years active: April 25, 2012 – December 2012

Years active: 2008 – December 2012

  • Trial Lawyers

Years active: 2005 – December 2012

Years active: 1998 – December 2012

Years active: 2004 – Present

Active Member: March 25, 1991

Bar Admissions

and courts of practice