SPRINGFIELD — Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman announced Wednesday that circuit judges from Macon and Logan counties will fill vacancies on the Fourth District Appellate Court in Springfield.
Lisa Holder White, one of four circuit judges in Macon County, has been assigned until Dec. 1, 2014, while Thomas Harris Jr., the sole circuit judge in Logan County, has been assigned to the appellate court until further notice.
White has been on the bench in Decatur since 2001. She was appointed an associate judge that year, appointed as a circuit judge in September 2008, and elected as a resident circuit judge — meaning she had to run only in Macon County — in November 2010.
If White wants to hang on the appeals court seat — which fills the vacancy created by the Oct. 30 death of John McCullough of Lincoln, she'll have to run for the office in November 2014 in all 30 counties of the Fourth District.
White, 44, of Decatur, told The News-Gazette she “definitely” intends to run for election to the appellate court.
Her assignment will mean that Dan Flannell, chief judge of the Sixth Circuit, will have to juggle some of his help to pick up her workload. It could mean occasionally sending Champaign County judges to Decatur to fill in.
Other counties in the Sixth Circuit are DeWitt, Douglas, Macon, Moultrie and Piatt.
White is a 1993 graduate of the University of Illinois College of Law. She has legal experience as both a prosecutor and public defender for Macon County as well as being in private practice in Decatur. She currently supervises the criminal law division and hears mostly criminal cases.
Harris, 49, also a resident circuit judge, has been in the headlines lately because he's presiding over the trial of two brothers charged with the September 2009 murders of five members of the Gee family from Beason. His reassignment to the appellate court will mean another circuit judge will have to step in.
Logan County is in the 11th Judicial Circuit, which also includes McLean, Ford, Livingston and Woodford counties.
Harris, of Lincoln, got his law degree in 1988 from the University of Colorado. He was in private practice in Lincoln and Bloomington and was a Logan County prosecutor before being named associate judge in Logan County in 2007. He was elected circuit judge in his home county in 2008.
White will begin her duties Jan. 14; Harris, on Jan. 3.
Garman told The News-Gazette last week that she had talked to about a dozen people for the two vacancies.
Appellate justices earn about $198,200 a year.