Lawyers interested in Ford County prosecutor post

PAXTON — At least two attorneys are interested in filling the Ford County prosecutor's job when State's Attorney Matt Fitton steps aside to fill the vacant judgeship this summer.

The Illinois Supreme Court appointed Fitton last week as resident circuit judge of Ford County, effective June 27. The appointment runs until Dec. 1, when Fitton is expected to begin his first six-year term as judge.

The appointment was made after the 52-year-old Fitton defeated his Republican opponent, Ellen Lee of Paxton, in the March 18 primary election, and no other candidates emerged to run against Fitton in November's general election.

Fitton will succeed Circuit Judge Steve Pacey, who retired Dec. 31, 2013, after a 17-year career on the bench.

Since January, four judges in the 11th Judicial Circuit have been temporarily assigned to fill in for Pacey. When Fitton becomes judge, he will be able to relieve some of those other judges' duties, but some will continue to work in Ford County so they can oversee the remaining cases Fitton had been prosecuting.

"Any case that I've begun as state's attorney, I can't hear as judge," Fitton said. "It would be a conflict, so one of the judges in the circuit would remain the judge on those cases until they're finished."

Meanwhile, the remaining two years of Fitton's current four-year term as state's attorney will be filled by appointment, according to state law. Fitton said the Ford County Board will be creating a committee to find candidates for the position, and the full board will need to appoint a replacement. Fitton said he will not be part of the selection process.

Two attorneys — Ross Sorensen of rural Buckley and Lance Camp of Paxton — said Monday they are interested in the state's attorney's job but have yet to decide whether to seek it. Lee, Fitton's opponent in March, had no comment when asked if she would be interested in the position.

Sorensen, 30, is an associate attorney for the Paxton law firm Martensen, Niemann & Associates. He has also served for a year as the attorney representing the city of Paxton and the Paxton Park District.

Camp, 33, a Paxton-Buckley-Loda High School graduate, works as an attorney for the Spenn, Johnson & Thompson law firm in Watseka. Camp's practice focuses mainly on criminal law and family law, although he also handles juvenile cases and deals with real estate, trusts and estates.

Will Brumleve is editor of the Paxton Record, a News-Gazette community newspaper. For more, visit paxtonrecord.net.

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