Federal prosecutor named as newest circuit judge

Federal prosecutor named as newest circuit judge

URBANA — A central Illinois federal prosecutor with civil law experience has been named as Champaign County’s newest circuit judge.

Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman announced Thursday that Jason Bohm will take the seat being vacated next week by Mike Jones, who is retiring after 21 years on the bench.

“I am thrilled,” said the 41-year-old Bohm, pronounced like the explosive device. “My grandma asked if they’ll be allowed to say my name in the courthouse,” he joked.

A 2003 magna cum laude graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law, Bohm has been a federal prosecutor in the Central District of Illinois for nine years — four in the Springfield office and the last five in the Urbana office.

For the last two years, he’s been doing mostly appellate work but prior to that handled anti-terrorism cases as well as fraud, guns and drugs. The latter three are typical assignments for most federal prosecutors.

After earning his law degree, Bohm clerked for the late Donald Stohr, a federal judge for the Eastern District of Missouri in St. Louis, for two years before getting a job at the prestigious Chicago firm of Sidley Austin LLP. He was there from 2005 to 2008 handling securities-fraud litigation.

Jones’ current assignment entails handling civil cases in which damages in excess of $50,000 are sought, which includes medical-malpractice claims.

Champaign County Presiding Judge Tom Difanis said he will discuss soon with Bohm what his new assignment will be. That hasn’t been nailed down yet.

Garman and Difanis were more concerned with getting the right person in the Urbana courthouse.

“He was ranked exceptionally well-qualified by my committee and I felt very strongly about his credentials,” said Garman, who had the ultimate say on who got the job. “He has a lot of experience and is well-suited to the position. Those I reached out to to talk about his background were very, very positive.”

Bohm was one of nine applicants for the vacancy. He has applied in the past for other Champaign County associate-judgeship positions, so the local circuit judges are familiar with him.

“He was very high on our list,” said Difanis, adding he was grateful to Garman for speeding up her selection.

Bohm plans to start March 19, just two weeks after Jones’ departure.

Difanis also said he was pleased that Garman allowed him and the other circuit judges to offer their input on who should get the job.

Bohm, of rural Mahomet, said he’s ready for the new challenge but understandably anxious.

“I’m confident but nervous at the same time,” said Bohm, who was juggling calls from Garman and The News-Gazette simultaneously while figuring out how to pick up a sick child Thursday morning.

Garman informed him of her selection Wednesday.

Bohm and his wife, Caroline, have been married 17 years and are the parents of three boys, ages 13, 10 and 8. His wife is a teacher’s aide in the Mahomet school system.

Prior to law school, Bohm also had a taste of teaching.

He earned his bachelor’s degree — cum laude — in mathematics in 1999 from Taylor University in Upland, Ind., also the alma mater of former UI basketball coach John Groce. Bohm’s first job was as a high school math teacher. He also worked as an assistant high school basketball coach.

As a circuit judge, he’ll earn a little more than $198,000 a year.

Bohm said he plans to run for election in 2020 to the judgeship to which he’s being appointed.

Jones’ seat is a resident judgeship, meaning that whoever wants it has to run for election only in Champaign County and not the other five counties of the 6th Judicial Circuit: DeWitt, Douglas, Macon, Moultrie and Piatt. Once elected, circuit judges run for retention in all the counties every six years.

Bohm said he’ll run as a Republican.

Sections (2):News, Local

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Chambanacitizen wrote on February 22, 2018 at 11:02 am

What a joke. Judges are to be fair and impartial. What a screwed up system.

Berto71 wrote on February 22, 2018 at 2:02 pm

What makes you think this guy is not fair and impartial?