Heather Isringhausen Gvillo Dec. 20, 2013, 3:26pm

Fifth District Appellate Court Judge James Wexstten will step down from his position at the end of January after serving more than 25 years on the bench.

“I really am going to miss the court,” Wexstten said. “My law clerks are incredible. They mean the world to me. They’re like family. They are sad to see me go, but they are supportive of my decision.

"I've met so many wonderful people,” Wexstten said. “I can’t imagine how blessed I’ve been.”

Wexstten said he is stepping down to focus on his family. He and his wife, Darla, have three daughters and six grandchildren.

Wexstten, originally from Montgomery County, was elected a circuit judge for the 12 counties of the Second Judicial Circuit in 1988. He was then elected Chief Circuit Judge twice during his tenure there – from 1991 to 1993 and again from 2000 to 2003.

On Feb. 7, 2011, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed Wexstten to the Fifth District Appellate Court before he was elected to a full term on Dec. 1, 2008.

Wexstten has yet to formally file his retirement notice, but plans to have the paperwork completed by the end of January.

Upon retirement, he said he plans to take vacation in Florida, enjoying the sunshine and golfing opportunities.

Prior to his long career as a judge, Wexstten practiced law for 11 years in his Mount Vernon office. He earned his juris doctorate in 1976 from the Southern Illinois University of Carbondale.

He said he is unsure whether he will continue practicing as a lawyer, and plans to discuss the possibility with his wife before making a decision.

Wexstten expressed readiness to have more time with family, but gratitude for his long career serving the Illinois courts.

“Thanks for the opportunity to serve the people.”

Supreme Court Justice Lloyd A.  Karmeier of the Fifth Judicial District will begin the process of selecting a replacement after the new year. The Supreme Court as a whole votes on appointments. 

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