The late Jeanne Scott blazed legal trails. Valedictorian at Sacred Heart High School when it was girls only, she went on to become the first female Sangamon County Circuit Court judge and, later, the first woman appointed a federal judge in central Illinois, a post she held for a dozen years before retiring in 2010. If she wasn't better than everyone else, she was, at least, their equal in a profession dominated by men, and she brooked little nonsense. Consider what she told a defendant in 2009 who had pleaded guilty to running a whorehouse and told the judge that she was trying to help women who worked on the premises, even as she took a cut of their earnings. Rejecting recommendations from both the defense and prosecutors, Scott gave her three months of home confinement instead of two. "This isn't just a crime with no consequences," she said.

The Central Illinois Women's Bar Association and the Sangamon County Bar Association have established a scholarship in memory of Scott, who died in October after a long struggle with dementia. The $2,000 Judge Jeanne E. Scott Scholarship will be awarded to a current or prospective law school student who lived in central Illinois upon graduation from high school. The application deadline is March 27, with more information available at

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