Recently selected Madison County Associate Judge Maureen D. Schuette, 53, has been assigned to the family docket, a division she has a history of experience in.
“These are dockets where it’s very emotional for people,” she said. “It’s harder for them because they are going to court and their property and their children are going to be impacted, their lives are impacted.”
“They want to be heard, and I want to treat them with respect and kindness,” she added.
Schuette said she is thrilled to begin her new position as judge.
“I am so excited to be working with such an amazing group of talented judges,” she said.
Schuette is the second oldest of seven children and grew up in Edwardsville. Her dad was a mechanical engineer and staff engineer with Shell Oil Company and her mom stayed home before going to work at the county clerk’s office. She later worked on the zoning board of appeals.
Schuette currently lives in Edwardsville with her husband Greg, who is assistant county engineer, and their three children Tom, Marissa and Nick.
“They’ve been tremendously supportive of me,” Schuette said of her family.
She said her interest in law began when she was a young girl and she would listen to her attorney uncle talk about his trials while sitting at her grandma’s kitchen table, which she found fascinating.
Her interest developed further when she worked at the county clerk’s office for five years, where she worked a lot with the attorneys. She said she enjoyed the environment and loved the people.
Schuette graduated from SIUE in 1984 with a degree in government. She later earned her juris doctor from the University of Puget Sound School of Law in Tacoma, Wash., which is now part of Seattle University.
While in law school, Schuette worked at a criminal defense firm and served as vice president of the law school. During her last two years of law school, she came back to Madison County during the summers to work in the state’s attorney’s office doing criminal and child support cases.
Following graduation, she did general practice law before opening her own practice in Edwardsville in 1993. She worked in every area of law but focused on family law at her private practice.
She was also in charge of the family division for the Third Judicial Circuit’s pro bono practice.
Schuette has also had experience as an arbitrator since March of 2007 and works as a mediator.
“I think that’s going to help me on the bench,” she said.
“Over the years, I worked in almost every single area of the law,” she added. “Luckily, I’ve gained proficiency in almost every area.”
Schuette’s personal experiences also helped prepare her for her new role over the family law division. She said she lost her dad and sister to cancer, which gave her a new appreciation for people in general.
“I truly appreciate every day and I am thankful for every day,” she said.
As part of her new appointment to the family docket, she said she will have to adjust to the changes happening in family law, including changes to the definition of “custody” as well as changes to the Dissolution of Marriage Act, among others.
Schuette said she is passionate about working with people in the legal field.
“I really really enjoy working with people, and that’s why I think the family law area will just be tremendous,” she said.
“Over the years, I have been taught to work hard, to be kind and to be thankful and be humble and treat others with respect. It will be fun to treat litigants with the same kindness and fairness and dignity,” she added.
Schuette is a member of the Madison County Bar Association and Illinois State Bar Association. She used to be a member of the American Bar Association and American Trial Lawyers Association.
She received the 2015 Public Interest Law Initiative Pro Bono award, the American Jurisprudence Award in Advance Family Law and was selected as a Leading Lawyers member.
Her swearing in ceremony will be held on Oct. 9 at the Madison County Circuit Court in Edwardsville.