DANVILLE — Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman is now accepting applications for the circuit judgeship being vacated this summer by Piatt County Judge John Shonkwiler.
A resident circuit judge since 1974, Shonkwiler announced his retirement earlier this month.
The 79-year-old Monticello resident remains hospitalized in Urbana following surgery earlier this month. Before that, he entered an administrative order saying he was taking extended sick leave. His retirement is effective July 31.
Shonkwiler's post will be filled by Supreme Court appointment. Applicants must be attorneys licensed to practice law in Illinois. They have to submit their credentials to Garman before June 12.
The person selected will serve until the November 2014 election. Since Shonkwiler's is a resident judgeship, the person who wants to replace him will have to run for election only in Piatt County and not the other five counties in the Sixth Judicial Circuit. Those are Champaign, DeWitt, Douglas, Macon and Moultrie.
Once elected, circuit judges run for retention every six years. They earn approximately $179,000 per year.
To request an application, go to the Supreme Court's website at http://www.state.il.us/court  and follow the instructions on the "latest news" scroller announcing the Sixth Judicial Circuit vacancy. Original applications must be submitted via mail to Garman at:
Supreme Court of Illinois
Attention: Mrs. Mary Hurley
3607 North Vermilion, Suite 1
Danville, IL 61832
No electronic or facsimile applications will be accepted.
Moultrie County Judge Dan Flannell of Sullivan has assumed the administrative duties that Shonkwiler, as the chief judge of the circuit, was required to perform. Chief judges get no extra compensation for those duties.
Flannell said the 14 circuit judges in the six counties will vote this month, by mail-in ballot, for the person they want to be the next chief. Whoever is chosen will serve as chief until the end of 2014, Flannell said.
Flannell said after consulting with Garman, he hopes a new judge will be on the bench in Monticello by the middle of August. The timing depends on how quickly the person can wrap up whatever business he or she might have. The earliest the person could be sworn in is Aug. 1, the day after Shonkwiler's retirement is effective.
Flannell and Associate Judge Chris Freese have been juggling the Piatt County court cases in Shonkwiler's absence.
Beginning next month, Flannell said, an associate judge from Champaign County will handle cases one day a week, an associate from Macon County will cover a second day, and Freese will handle a third. Flannell will be available for emergency hearings the other two days a week.
Flannell said he's hopeful that Shonkwiler will feel up to returning to work to help with the transition.