Ann Maher Mar. 20, 2014, 9:41am

A career that began as a paper boy in 1958 and just continued to get better is winding down.

Madison County Associate Judge Dean Sweet is retiring May 31.

In a letter addressed to Chief Judge Dave Hylla, Sweet, 66, wrote that he intends to spend more time with his wife of 44 years, Judy, and their children and grandchildren.

“I am grateful to my colleagues on the bench,” he wrote. “They supported me and gave me their friendship. My task as a Judge was easier due to the hard work and assistance of the employees in the Circuit Clerk’s Office, the Sheriff’s Office and other Court support personnel.”

Sweet was appointed to the bench in January 2010, following the retirement of associate judge Ralph Mendelsohn in December 2009.

Prior to donning a robe, Sweet had operated his own law practice in Wood River. He also had been a partner in the law firm Holland & Holland.

He served as city attorney for East Alton, Roxana and the St. Louis Regional Airport. He also had been an assistant state’s attorney for 15 years.

After receiving his law degree from St. Louis University, Sweet served as city attorney for Champaign from 1980 to 1981.

He has served as the past president of the Alton-Wood River Bar Association, has served on the board of directors of the Madison County Urban League. He also has been involved in numerous community groups and activities.

Sweet notably served on the Roxana School Board three decades ago. In his letter to Hylla, he recalled a controversial decision the board made in 1988 allowing an 8-year-old boy with AIDS to attend school amid public outcry.

“I am proud to have served on the Roxana School Board,” Sweet wrote. “At a time when information was wanting and prejudice was high, that School Board had the courage to admit and accept a student diagnosed with AIDS after other school districts had rejected that child.”

In addition to his legal and community work, Sweet served in the U.S. Air Force and was awarded the U.S. Air Force Medal for his service during the Vietnam War.

Sweet beat out 13 other candidates to fill Mendelsohn’s seat. He was voted in by the circuit judges of the Third Circuit.

During his swearing-in ceremony, Sweet made light of a packed house in his remarks following the oath of office.

“If I’d known I had this many friends, I would have run for circuit judge,” he joked.

The process for filling Sweet’s seat will be taken up by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier, who will recommend an appointment for the full Court to consider.


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