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Joseph P. Hettel was born on November 9, 1967, in Ottawa, Illinois. After graduating from Ottawa Marquette High School, he received a football scholarship from Illinois State University (ISU).  He earned a Bachelor of Finance degree from ISU in 1989 and went on to obtain a Master of Business Administration from ISU in 1991. He attended Chicago Kent College of Law and graduated with his Juris Doctorate degree in 1994.


Joe began his legal career as an Assistant State’s Attorney in LaSalle County in 1994. In 1996, he joined the law firm of Armstrong & Surin. engaging in the general practice of law. He was elected to serve as LaSalle County State’s Attorney in 2000 and re-elected in 2004. In 2004, he was elected to the Board of Governors of the Office of the State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutors. He was twice re-elected to the 10-member board that oversees the state agency responsible for appellate court prosecutions.

In December 2006, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Joe to the position of Resident Circuit Judge of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit, LaSalle County. He was then elected to the position of Circuit Court Judge by the voters of LaSalle County. In 2022, Joe was unanimously appointed  by the Supreme Court as Justice of the  Illinois Third District Appellate Court.

Throughout his career, Joe has been active in the legal community. He previously served as a member of the Illinois Court’s Commission, Chairman of the LaSalle County Children’s Advocacy Center and Chairman of the LaSalle County Juvenile Justice Council, as the fifth Vice-President of the Illinois State’s Attorneys Association, and as President of the LaSalle County Bar Association.

He is currently a member of the Illinois Supreme Courts Committee on Evidence, Board of Direction of the Illinois Judge’s Association, Board of Directors of the Illinois Judge’s Foundation, Illinois State Bar Association, and LaSalle County Bar Association.


A fifth generation farmer and lifelong resident of LaSalle County, Joe resides in rural Ottawa with his wife, Leah. They have
three children. Joe coached high school football for many years,  enjoys farming, and raises horses.

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