James A. Knecht was born in Lincoln in 1944. He was educated at Illinois State University (ISU) and the University of Illinois College of Law, graduating with honors in 1973. He was an editor of the Law Review and a member of the Order of the Coif. He served as a law clerk to Illinois Supreme Court Justice Robert C. Underwood (1973-74), as an Associate Circuit Judge (1975-78) and as a Circuit Judge (1978-86) before being elected to the Fourth District Appellate Court in 1986. Judge Knecht is chair of the Appellate Court Administrative Committee. He is a member of the Illinois State and McLean County Bar Associations, the American Judicature Society, the Illinois Judges' Association, the Appellate Lawyers Association, and is a fellow of the Illinois Bar Foundation. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the ISU Foundation Board and the Institute for Collaborative Solutions. He serves on the Illinois Family Violence Coordinating Council and on the National Advisory Board of the Corporate Alliance To End Partner Violence. He has been an adjunct professor at ISU since 1977 and at the University of Illinois College of Law since 1994. Judge Knecht is the co-founder and was the charter president of the Robert C. Underwood Inn of Court. He and his wife, Ruth, reside in Normal and have two children and two grandchildren.