Associate judge position open in 6th Circuit

Associate judge position open in 6th Circuit

TUSCOLA — Attorneys interested in becoming an associate judge in the 6th Judicial Circuit have until May 5 to apply in the wake of an associate judge's promotion to circuit judge.

Last week, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Associate Judge Richard "Rick" Broch of Tuscola to the vacant resident circuit judgeship in Douglas County for which he will be running, apparently unopposed, in November.

Broch defeated Tuscola lawyer Lorna Geiler in the March 18 Republican primary to run for the seat open due to the recent retirement of Circuit Judge Mike Carroll. No Democrats filed to run in the primary and so far, no independent candidates have publicly declared candidacy.

Retired Douglas County Judge Frank Lincoln has been filling in since Carroll left in December and will stay on until Broch's appointment as circuit judge is effective June 16.

A former defense attorney and state's attorney in Douglas County, Broch was chosen as an associate judge in November 2012. He filled the vacancy created by the retirement of Associate Judge Chris Freese of Sullivan.

The 6th Judicial Circuit includes Champaign, DeWitt, Douglas, Macon, Moultrie and Piatt counties. As an associate, Broch has done the bulk of his service in the smaller counties of Douglas, DeWitt, Moultrie and Piatt. His successor is likely to do the same.

Associate judges are chosen by the elected circuit judges in all the counties and serve at the pleasure of the circuit judges. Their appointments are reviewed every four years, with the next review for all associates slated for July 1, 2015.

Associate judges in Illinois earn about $175,000 annually.

Chief Judge Dan Flannell said the June date for Broch's appointment was chosen because that's how long he thinks it will take to get an associate on the job.

"It will give us about two weeks to review the applications, do any interviews we feel are necessary, make the announcement, and give the person 30 days to wind up work and take the bench," Flannell said.

Flannell, who sits in Moultrie County, has been spending almost as much of his time in the last couple of years as a human resources expert juggling judicial assignments as he has on the bench.

Part of that is due to a chronic illness that has kept DeWitt County Judge Gary Bryan off the bench in Clinton, the assignment of Macon County Circuit Judge Lisa Holder White to the Fourth District Appellate Court in Springfield, and a conflict that Piatt County Judge Hugh Finson has hearing criminal cases in Monticello because his niece, Dana Rhoades, is the state's attorney there.

For more than a year, Champaign County judges had been going to Clinton twice a week to help out with Bryan's caseload. Earlier this year, Flannell started sending the Champaign County judges to Decatur to help.

"We covered DeWitt until we got pulled out and sent to Decatur," said Champaign County Presiding Judge Tom Difanis. "We did (Decatur duty) in February and March and we are now going into our third month on Tuesdays and Thursdays."

"In Flannell's latest e-mail, he indicated the vacation schedule in the summer will stretch us thin," Difanis added. "I have Macon covered (with Champaign County judges) in April and May."

White is running unopposed in the November election for the seat on the Fourth District Appellate Court to which she was appointed in December 2012. Unless and until she agrees to resign her Macon County circuit judgeship, no vacancy can be declared, meaning the other judges in the circuit have to pick up the slack.

The circuit judges will have another associate to choose for Macon County later in the year. Associate Judge R.C. Bollinger is running apparently unopposed for the seat to be vacated by the Dec. 1 retirement of Circuit Judge Katherine "Kitty" McCarthy.

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