Full Name
Hon. Rebecca Pallmeyer
Job Title
Chief Judge Northern District of Illinois
U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
Speaker Bio
Chief Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer served as a Magistrate Judge for the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago from October 1, 1991, to 1998. She served as Presiding Magistrate Judge from 1996 until 1998. On July 31, 1997, Judge Pallmeyer was nominated to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton. She was confirmed by the Senate on October 21, 1998, and received her commission on October 22, 1998. On July 1, 2019, Judge Pallmeyer became Chief Judge of the Northern District of Illinois, making her the first woman to head the federal court in Chicago in its 200-year history.

Judge Pallmeyer was born in Tokyo and grew up in St. Louis. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Valparaiso University in 1976 and a Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School in 1979. Before taking the bench, Judge Pallmeyer was a law clerk to Rosalie E. Wahl, Minnesota Supreme Court Justice, from 1979 to 1980. Judge Pallmeyer was in private practice in commercial litigation in Chicago, Illinois from 1980 to 1985 at the law firm of Hopkins & Sutter (later acquired by Foley & Lardner). Judge Pallmeyer then served as an administrative law judge on the Illinois Human Rights Commission from 1985 to 1991. During her more than two decades on the federal bench, Judge Pallmeyer has presided over several significant cases. She presided over the six-month corruption trial of former Illinois Governor George Ryan, whom she sentenced in 2006 to six-and-a-half years in prison. Another was the trial of the man who helped plot the murder of Heather Mack’s mother in Bali, whom she sentenced to nine years in prison.

Judge Pallmeyer serves as the Seventh Circuit’s District Judge Representative to the United States Judicial Conference. She is an honorary fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Since 2006, Judge Pallmeyer has served on the faculty for the annual ALI-CLE program, Current Developments in Employment Law, held in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Judge Pallmeyer is past President of the Lawyers Club of Chicago, past President of the Richard Linn American Inn of Courts, and an active member of the Chicago Bar Association, the Chicago Chapter of the Federal Bar Association, the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois, and the American Bar Association.
Hon. Rebecca Pallmeyer