The Honorable Kate Gorman

Woman of Influence
by Grace Mata
Howard & Howard Attorneys

The Honorable Kate Gorman, a local “woman of influence,” currently serves as one of three women who occupy a state court judicial seat in the Tenth Illinois Judicial Circuit, covering Peoria, Tazewell, Marshall, Stark and Putnam counties. Judge Gorman recently announced her candidacy for the Tenth Judicial Circuit seat vacated by the Honorable James Shadid. 

Judge Gorman is a native of Washington, Illinois. She attended Central Grade School and Washington Community High School, graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Illinois, and obtained a law degree from Southern Illinois University.  Before receiving an appointment to serve as an associate judge, Judge Gorman worked in private practice on a variety of civil matters, including family law, real estate, guardianships, adoptions, workers’ compensation, bankruptcy, foreclosures, appellate work, corporate matters and probate. The circuit judges of the Tenth Judicial Circuit appointed Judge Gorman as an associate judge in November 2007. She has presided over felony and misdemeanor jury and bench trials in criminal court, traffic court, domestic violence court, as well as over many diverse civil disputes. She is married to Dr. Jim Hubler, and together they have two young daughters, Ellie and Ava.

Running for office requires a great deal of courage, and campaigning can be physically and financially draining. The politics can sometimes get downright brutal, and this holds particularly true with respect to the judiciary. Despite these challenges, women like Judge Gorman are seeking office in record numbers. When asked how she balances the demands of the campaign with family, she states, “It is an extremely difficult task, but I have a great network of family and friends who are willing to help, which makes campaigns such as this one more manageable. The challenge presented by the campaign is just one more challenge in life, and life is full of challenges. What matters is that you do your best.”

Judge Gorman previously sought a circuit judge position in the 2010 Republican primary, losing to current Circuit Judge Michael Risinger. If elected, she would be the Tenth Judicial Circuit’s first elected female circuit judge. Judge Gorman remarks that she is extremely proud of her last campaign, which she lost by a narrow margin. She disagrees with the label of courageous, and prefers to describe herself as hard-working. She believes that without regard to gender, she is the best-qualified candidate for the job.

This is 2011. Why haven’t the 10th Judicial Circuit voters ever elected a female judge? According to the National Association of Women Judges, in 2010, women comprised 281 of the 1,028 Illinois judicial seats in 2010—just 27 percent of state judges. In “Women Candidates and Judicial Elections: Telling an Untold Story,” the author discusses the experiences of women in state court judicial elections. One interesting finding is that “men’s status as incumbents helps men in funding their campaigns, whereas women incumbents receive no similar benefit. Incumbency correlates in a statistically significant way with men’s campaign contributions. In contrast, it has no statistically significant effect on the contributions reported by women.” These statistics and findings give a small glimpse into the challenges faced by candidates like Judge Gorman. 

Judge Kate Gorman represents an example of the brave women seeking election to the bench. She is unique in that she provides an example for other women in our area to follow, but Judge Gorman notes that she is not the first female to run for the Tenth Judicial Circuit. Judge Jerelyn Maher previously ran for circuit judge, and currently occupies an associate judicial seat. She goes on to say that what she provides to her profession is her very best, and at the end of the day, one’s gender is not the issue. Judge Gorman’s position on gender reflects an opinion held by many influential people: hard work and dedication prove more important then any immutable characteristic. iBi

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