September 23, 2005

Mary Ann G. McMorrow SIUC to host state Supreme Court justice

by Pete Rosenbery


CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Illinois Supreme Court Justice Mary Ann G. McMorrow, considered a trailblazer for women in the state's legal circles, is presenting a lecture at Southern Illinois University Carbondale next week.

McMorrow is present the Jeanne Hurley Simon Lecture at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 28, in Student Center Ballroom D. The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute and the SIUC law school are sponsoring the lecture. Admission is free.

The Jeanne Hurley Simon Lecture Series honors Public Policy Institute founder Paul Simon's first wife, Jeanne, who died in February 2000. The series brings in prestigious speakers from politics, government and other fields.

"We are delighted that Justice McMorrow has agreed to honor her friend and fellow trailblazer Jeanne Simon by sharing her insights with our faculty, students and the Southern Illinois community in general," said institute Director Mike Lawrence.

"This distinguished jurist was the first woman elected to the Illinois Supreme Court and the first woman to serve as chief justice. She and Jeanne worked together as prosecutors – when there were relatively few female lawyers – and they formed a great friendship that persevered while Jeanne became one of the few women serving in the General Assembly and Justice McMorrow broke through the glass ceiling of the Illinois judiciary," Lawrence said.

McMorrow and Jeanne Simon were the first two female state's attorneys in the Cook County State's Attorney's office, and the two remained good friends through the years, said Simon's daughter, Sheila Simon, a clinical assistant professor at SIUC's law school.

McMorrow "is just an amazing person," Simon said. "Her list of firsts – what she has been the first woman to do – is just enormous. Someone in that position could easily be full of themselves and that is the last thing she is. She is just a wonderful person and a very good lawyer and justice."

The only female in her graduating class at Loyola University School of Law in 1953, she later became the first woman to prosecute major felony cases in Cook County.

McMorrow has nearly 30 years experience as a judge. She was elected circuit court judge in 1976, and appointed to the state appellate court in 1985. She won election to the Illinois Supreme Court in 1992 – the first woman in the court's 173-year history – and was elected chief judge for a three-year term in May 2002.

Simon anticipates an inspiring lecture.

"I would hope she would inspire a wide range of people to understand how they can be a part of our justice system in Illinois and our nation – that it really belongs to everyone and there should be no limits on who can participate," she said.

For more information, contact the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at 618/453-4009 or visit

Developing citizen-leaders with global perspectives is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.