Heather Isringhausen Gvillo Jan. 7, 2015, 8:49am

After roughly one month on the bench, Madison County Circuit Judge John Barberis, Jr. said the transition from lawyer to judge has gone really well.

“It’s been fantastic,” Barberis said.

Barberis, a Republican, was sworn in on Dec. 1 after winning a circuit court seat in the November election.

He received 41,723 votes to Associate Judge Clarence Harrison’s 35,114 votes, a margin of 54 to 46 percent.

In the campaign for the empty circuit judge seat - vacated by former chief judge Ann Callis - Barberis did not accept campaign contributions from attorneys.

On the other hand, Harrison, a Democrat, raised more than $100,000 in individual contributions, much of which came from asbestos attorneys who practice in Madison County.

Barberis, of St. Jacob, said his fellow judges have been warm and welcoming, making the switch fairly seamless.

He added that his new position as judge has been a learning experience as he works in subjects new to his area of expertise.

Since beginning his new role, Barberis said his docket consists of a variety of cases, including Law Division, Miscellaneous Remedy, Chancery, minor civil and arbitration.

“I get sent to new judge school in February, so until then I guess I get graded on a curve,” Barberis joked.

"Judge school" will be held in Chicago where new judges learn tricks of the trade, such as how to be a more effective jurist and how to conduct themselves on the bench. Barberis will be joined in Chicago by first-term Madison County Associate judges Philip Alfeld and Martin Mengarelli.

Barberis said he is taking things one step at a time, but his goal is to do the best job he can while on the bench.

“I definitely appreciate the trust they showed in electing me,” he said. “I plan on fulfilling the duties of my job the best I can and making sure that the Madison County residents who elected me, that their interests are protected under the law.”

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