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The mission of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court is to serve the public
by providing access to a fair and efficient system of justice in accordance with the law that fosters public trust and confidence.
Winnebago County Courthouse
400 W. State Street
Rockford, IL 61101
Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center
650 W. State Street
Rockford, IL 61102
 Winnebago County Juvenile Justice Center
211 S. Court Street
Rockford, IL 61101
Boone County Courthouse
601 N. Main Street
Belvidere, IL 61008

The Statement of Professional Aspirations for the Legal Profession in the 17th Judicial Circuit

  Information Guide: 

 When and where is my next court date?  Are court forms available online?  Is child care available at the courthouse?
 Where can I find help for a legal problem?  What are my duties as a  juror?  How are marriage and civil union ceremonies performed?
Retirement of Karen L. Sorensen / Posting for Winnebago County Public Defender Print E-mail


On December 31, 2016, Attorney Karen L. Sorensen will retire after serving sixteen years as Winnebago County Public Defender.    Ms. Sorensen was appointed as Winnebago County Public Defender in July 2000.  Prior to her appointment, she served as an assistant public defender for twenty-one years.

She received a B.A. from Purdue University in 1970, a J.D. from the DePaul University College of Law in 1974 and an M.B.A. from Northern Illinois University in 1993.

Prior to her employment with Winnebago County, she was an assistant attorney for the City of Rockford from 1976 to 1977 and was a law clerk to Justice William Nash of the Second District Appellate Court from 1977 to 1979.  From 1979 to 1985 she was an alderman for the City of Rockford representing the Second Ward.

As Public Defender Ms. Sorensen was active in planning of the Winnebago County Criminal Justice Center and the Winnebago County Juvenile Justice Center. She kept an active caseload for many years, including being involved in the initial planning and implementation of the Winnebago County TIP Court, a problem-solving court for defendants with mental illness.

With respect to this retirement, Chief Judge McGraw states, “Ms. Sorensen’s passion and zeal in the representation of her clients sets an example for her employees to follow.”

An announcement as to a retirement reception for Ms. Sorensen will be made at a later date.

Joseph G. McGraw, Chief Judge of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit has posted a Notice of Vacancy for the position of Winnebago County Public Defender.  The application period for the current vacancy will remain open until November 11, 2016. 

The following documents are available for download:

Notice of Vacancy - Winnebago County Public Defender

Application for Appointment for the Office of Winnebago County Public Defender

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Frontpage Directory

Winnebago County
  • Circuit Clerk                (815) 319-4500
  • Sheriff's Department (815) 319-6000
  • State's Attorney           (815) 319-4700
  • Public Defender           (815) 319-4900
  • Adult Probation           (815) 319-6250
  • Juvenile Probation      (815) 516-2700
  • Arbitration Center        (815) 987-7739
  • Jury Commission       (815) 319-4880
Boone County
  • Circuit Clerk                   (815) 544-0371
  • Sheriff's Department   (815) 544-9322
  • State's Attorney             (815) 544-0868
  • Public Defender            (815) 547-5400
  • Probation Department (815) 544-9806
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