The Journal of The DuPage County Bar Association

Back Issues > Vol. 12 (1999-00)

Hon. Bonnie M. Wheaton
Candidate for Illinois Supreme Court, 2nd Judicial District

No other candidate running for the 2nd Judicial District vacancy on the Illinois Supreme Court has the depth and breadth of experience of Judge Bonnie Wheaton. She has been a judge longer than any of her opponents. She has had more judicial trial experience than all of her opponents combined. She is the only candidate in the race with criminal trial experience. She is the only one to have ever looked a defendant in the eye and said, "You are going to jail."

She is also the only candidate to limit campaign contributions to $100, whether it’s from a single contributor or an entire firm. Judge Wheaton believes it is important to remove even the perception that judicial decisions could be influenced by large donors.

As a DuPage County Chancery Division judge, she hears some of the most complex cases in the State of Illinois, serving as both judge and jury. It is an awesome responsibility which she fulfills with the utmost care and respect. Judge Wheaton is well into her 12th year as a trial judge, serving in the Chancery Division for the past nine years. She is proud of the fact that just last year, the DuPage Bar Association gave her a 93+ percent approval rating and the voters honored her with the highest percentage retention vote in DuPage County history.

Bonnie Wheaton loves the law, and she absolutely loves her job. Which raises the question, why would she want to leave the job that she loves to sit on the Illinois Supreme Court?

It’s because she sees the current Second District vacancy as a wonderful opportunity to build an important bridge between the Illinois Supreme Court and the people it serves in upholding the United States and Illinois Constitutions. To put it quite simply, she knows she is the right person for the job.

Bonnie Wheaton has achieved a balance of legal knowledge and judicial experience so necessary for the sober responsibilities of our state’s highest court. She brings with her a strong civil and criminal trial background equaled by no other judge in the race. And it gives her the confidence to tackle the enormous legal challenges presented by the Illinois Supreme Court.

Judge Wheaton also believes it is important for a Supreme Court justice to maintain a sensitivity not only to the law – but to the ordinary, hard-working people, whose lives the court’s decisions impact in no small way. Like far too many people, she has personally been victimized by crime. She has also shared the privilege of raising two wonderful children. And she has experienced the agony and helpless frustration of being at the side of her husband as he lost his fight with cancer.

She met her late husband in college and shared a wonderful partnership through 27 years of marriage, which started with his serving a year in the Central Highlands of Vietnam, while she tended to their first child. Her husband’s family settled what is now the city that bears the Wheaton name. Bonnie Wheaton is proud of the commitment and values that name will always represent.

Bonnie Wheaton has crisscrossed through the 13 counties that comprise the Second Judicial District since her official announcement last June 15. One of the most frequent questions asked of her is "Can you handle the demands of the Supreme Court?"

Her answer is, "ABSOLUTELY." She was still carrying out the responsibilities of a mother while she attended Northern Illinois University College of Law (known then as Lewis University College of Law), and still managed to graduate magna cum laude and first in her class of 272. She had earlier attended Carleton College as a National Merit Scholar, and graduated cum laude. She also earned a Master’s Degree at the University of Michigan. Judge Wheaton does her own research as a Chancery Division judge. She has been honored by election to the elite American Law Institute, and has passed the optional examination at the National Judicial College General Jurisdiction course with distinction.

But she also knows that the Supreme Court requires the skills of working together. She often explains that she performs in the DuPage Symphony Orchestra, and that the finished product there, like the Supreme Court, is the sum of its parts. But she is also quick to point out that she is not afraid to perform a solo.

It is difficult to live in DuPage County and not cross paths with Judge Wheaton in her myriad community activities. In addition as serving as chairperson of the Northern Illinois University College of Law Board of Visitors (where she has been selected Alumna of the Year), she has been selected Outstanding Woman Leader in Government, Politics and Civic Affairs by the YWCA DuPage, serves on the scholarship and membership committees of the College of DuPage Foundation, on the boards of Metropolitan Family Service DuPage, Wyndemere and Westbridge Retirement Communities, Windows of Opportunity, the Wheaton Cemetery Association; as a volunteer for Bottomless Closet, a cellist in the DuPage Symphony Orchestra, on the finance committee of Gary Memorial United Methodist Church and as Wheaton/Glen Ellyn Branch Historian for the American Association of University Women.

Experience, integrity, ability, energy – words that aptly describe Judge Bonnie Wheaton of Wheaton. She is truly a woman of the new millennium. Accomplished, confident, competent and open-minded. She is the first DuPage County judge to have established her own Internet web site. And she is totally focused on becoming the first Republican woman to ever serve on the Illinois Supreme Court.

DCBA Brief