SULLIVAN — It will likely be the first of the new year before a new associate judge for the 6th Judicial Circuit will take the bench.
Chief Judge Dan Flannell of Sullivan on Wednesday released the names of the 26 lawyers who have applied to fill the post that will be vacated by the Dec. 2 retirement of Associate Judge Chris Freese, who has been on the bench since 1999.
Among the applicants are several familiar faces at the Champaign County Courthouse, including two members of the public defender’s office, four members of the state’s attorney’s staff, one public service lawyer, and four private attorneys. Even two brothers from different counties - Roger Webber of Urbana and Gary Webber of Monticello - are vying for the post.
The new associate will ride the four counties of the six-county circuit with the smaller populations: DeWitt, Douglas, Moultrie and Piatt. The associates in Champaign and Macon counties can also do that but as a matter of practice have stayed in their home counties.
Associates earn about $170,000 per year.
Flannell said he, DeWitt County Judge Gary Bryan and Douglas County Judge Mike Carroll will sift through the applications and do the interviews. Once they reach a consensus, they’ll present their candidate to the other circuit judges in Macon and Champaign counties for their approval.
Circuit judges are elected. Associate judges serve at the pleasure of the circuit judges.
“This is the most important thing a circuit judge does,” Flannell said of the selection process, “because these people are the face of the court. If you find a person who has come to court only once or twice, chances are they’ve appeared before an associate judge.”
Newly appointed Piatt County Circuit Judge Hugh Finson will not take part in the process because his niece is among the applicants. Dana Rhoades, the Piatt County state’s attorney, also applied for the circuit judgeship for which her uncle was ultimately selected after the death in July of former Chief Judge John Shonkwiler.
“My target date for the announcement is Nov. 15, with the new associate sworn in on Jan. 2, the first day available under the Supreme Court’s new policy of ‘no fill for 30 days’ on a vacancy,” said Flannell.
He has asked the Illinois State Bar Association to conduct a poll of its members on the candidates and has been told the results should be completed and back to the judges by Nov. 2.
The applicants by county include:
Joseph Chamley, Champaign attorney.
Lindsey Clark, assistant Champaign County state’s attorney.
Daniel Fossier, Champaign attorney.
Duke Harris, assistant Champaign County state’s attorney.
Troy Lozar, assistant Champaign County state’s attorney.
Marjorie J. “Janie” Miller-Jones, assistant Champaign County public defender.
Randy Rosenbaum, Champaign County public defender.
Ramona Sullivan, Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation attorney.
Roger Webber, Urbana attorney.
Stephanie Weber, assistant Champaign County state’s attorney.
Ruth Wyman, Urbana attorney.
Richard Goff, DeWitt County public defender.
Dodie Junkert, Clinton attorney.
Stephanie Scoles, Clinton attorney.
Richard Broch Jr., Tuscola attorney.
James Lee of Tuscola, Douglas County public defender.
Kevin Nolan of Tuscola, Douglas County state’s attorney.
Katherine Watson of Tuscola, assistant Douglas County state’s attorney.
Monica Hawkins, Decatur attorney.
Philip Tibbs, Decatur attorney.
Shig Yasunaga, Peoria attorney.
John Foltz, Monticello attorney.
Jerry Johnson, assistant Piatt County state’s attorney.
Dana Rhoades, Piatt County state’s attorney.
Roger Simpson, Monticello attorney.
Gary Webber, Monticello attorney.