James M. O'Rourke became Executive Director of the JAC in 1989. Mr. O'Rourke is a graduate of the University of Illinois and of the John Marshall Law School. James has worked in Cook County's Justice System since 1974, serving in the Law Division as an Assistant Clerk of the Circuit Court from 1974 through 1981. Following the Circuit Court, James worked as a Cook County Public Defender from 1981 through 1989 practicing in virtually every criminal court in the system. He became a Supervisor of the Public Defender's Office in 1985. James is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association, and serves on the ISBA's Local Government Section. He is also a member of the National Association of Counties (NACo), Vice Chair of NACo's Courts and corrections committee, and has been Vice-Chair of NACo's Public Safety Committee for 8 years.
Mr. O'Rourke served two terms as a gubernatorial appointee as Vice-Chairman and Parliamentarian of the Illinois Planning Council. He is active in the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA), the Chicago Bar Association, and the ISBA, previously serving on the CBA's Judicial Evaluation Committee and ISBA's Criminal Justice Section Council. James has taught as an adjunct faculty member at Chicago State University, Triton College, and the John Marshall Law School. In addition, he was appointed by the Illinois General Assembly to the Illinois Criminal Code Rewrite Committee, and to a legislative task force to develop recommendations on improving the Illinois juvenile justice system.