YORKVILLE — Melissa Barnhart dreamed of becoming a professional baseball player. His father advised him to have a safety net and become a lawyer.
Barnhart took his father’s advice and embarked on a successful legal career that included work as a Kendall County prosecutor, as a lawyer in private practice, and finally as a highly respected 23rd Circuit judge. .
Now Barnhart is off the bench and has received praise from fellow lawyers and other top county leaders.
Kendall County Council honored Barnhart at its June 7 meeting, with members praising the outgoing judge, who served 13 years on the bench.
“Your name is synonymous with integrity and fairness,” board member Amy Cesich told Barnhart.
“You are part of the fabric of Kendall County,” Board Chairman Scott Gryder said.
Barnhart, the first woman to become a judge in Kendall County, was grateful.
“It was an honor,” Barnhart said. “It’s humiliating.”
Barnhart also thanked county council members.
“You’ve been very supportive of justice,” Barnhart said.
Barnhart was first appointed as an associate judge in the 16th Judicial Circuit assigned to DeKalb County.
With the creation of the 23rd Judicial Circuit, Barnhart continued her judicial career in Kendall County and was elected as a circuit judge in 2012.
Prior to becoming a judge, Barnhart served as an Assistant State’s Attorney for Kendall County under State’s Attorney Dallas Ingemunson. She then practiced in private practice until her appointment to the bench.
With Barnhart’s decision to step aside, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed John McAdams of Yorkville as the new circuit judge, effective July 11.
The 23rd Judicial Circuit serves Kendall and DeKalb counties.
McAdams has served as an associate judge since February 2011. He was admitted to practice law in November 1995 and, prior to his appointment to the bench, he was in private practice in Kendall County and was a part-time assistant public defender in the County of Kendal.
The appointment comes on the recommendation of Justice Michael Burke, Illinois Supreme Court Justice for the 2nd District, which includes Kendall County. Circuit judges are elected for 6-year terms and McAdams is expected to run for a full term in 2024.
McAdams’ associate judge position will be filled by circuit judges from the 23rd Judicial Circuit.