Effective October 1, 2019, Justice Melissa A. Chapman of the Illinois Appellate Court, Fifth District, will be retiring from the bench. Justice Chapman has served on the Appellate Court since 2001.
Justice Chapman was born in Granite City, Illinois. She received her bachelor's and master's degrees from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, and worked as a mental health counselor for five years before attending law school.
Justice Chapman earned her Juris Doctor from St. Louis University. Before her appointment to the Appellate Court, she practiced law for 18 years as a partner in the firm of Morris B. Chapman & Associates, Ltd., in Granite City, where her practice focused on personal injury litigation. Along with serving on the bench, Justice Chapman served on the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission Review Board from 1998 to 2001 and has served as a member of the Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions Committee-Civil since 1995.
The Illinois Supreme Court has appointed Retired Circuit Judge Milton S. Wharton to fill the vacancy left by Justice Chapman's retirement. Judge Wharton served as an associate judge in St. Clair County from 1976 until his retirement in 2012. Before serving on the bench, Judge Wharton worked in the St. Clair County Public Defender's Office. Judge Wharton also founded the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Southwestern Illinois, a nonprofit that advocates for the best interests of abused and neglected children.