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Local lawyer becomes McLean County’s first African-American judge


BLOOMINGTON (WEEK) - A lawyer from the Twin-Cities is making history by becoming the first African-American judge in the 11th Judicial Circuit, serving McLean, Woodford, Logan, Livingston, and Ford Counties.

The Illinois Supreme Court announced Tuesday that McLean County Public Defender Carla Barnes has been appointed to fill the vacancy created by Judge Scott Drazewski's retirement.

Barnes has been public defender since 2014, and she has also worked as a prosecutor in Cook and McLean Counties.

Barnes is an Illinois State University graduate and earned her law degree from Chicago's John Marshall Law School.

"Considering her diverse background and her experience in the courtroom, I am confident that she will be an excellent member of the judiciary,” said Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman.

Barnes told 25 News it is "such an honor" to become the first African-American on the bench, and she considers retired McLean County Judge Beth Robb, the county's first female judge, as a mentor.

"She's my trailblazer," Barnes said of Robb.

Barnes will be sworn in February 11 to fill the rest of Drazewski's term. She's expected to seek election to the post in 2022.

Howard Packowitz

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