Moran era over in Madison County

Steve Gonzalez Feb. 14, 2006, 7:21pm

George Moran

There was no cake and ice cream; no folks gathered to reminisce about the good old days. On Tuesday, Feb. 14, Madison County Circuit Judge George Moran's last official day on the job after 28 years passed unceremoniously.

Two months ago, Moran announced that he would retire after his term expired in December. But last week, Moran took some by surprise when he submitted his resignation to Chief Judge Edward Ferguson, stating that his last day on the job would be Feb. 14.

In a prepared statement Moran said, "I would like to thank all of the judges, attorneys, state's attorney personnel, public defenders, clerks, bailiffs, probation officers, security officers, sheriff's deputies, courthouse personnel and many citizen jurors that I have enjoyed working with over the past 28 years during my judicial career. I look forward to spending more time with my family."

What happens next is unclear. Normally, the Illinois Supreme Court appoints a replacement to finish the term of a retired judge. However, since Moran had previously announced his retirement two associate judges decided to vie for the post in the November general election.

If either Republican Associate Judge James Hackett or Democrat Associate Judge Barbara Crowder were asked to fill post they would have to resign their current positions and risk unemployment post election. As it stands, the loser in the general election could keep their associate judge job.

In Illinois, circuit judges are elected by the voters and associate judges are elected by the circuit judges.

The Illinois Constitution does not set a time frame for the vacancy to be filled so Moran's position could remain vacant until voters decide in November.

Moran is a former assistant public defender and was first appointed as associate judge in 1977 by Illinois State Supreme Court. He was first elected a circuit judge in 1982.

Moran generated national controversy in March 1992 when he ordered four top officers of Toledo, Ohio-based Owens-Corning Fiberglass Corp. to testify in an asbestos suit against the company. The officers refused, arguing that travel to Madison County would interfere with their company's operations.

Moran held them in contempt of court and ruled that the company had forfeited its right to a defense, rendering a default judgment. The verdict forced Owens-Corning to pay four former workers $10 million, including $7.5 million in punitive damages.

In his last retention election, Nov. 7, 2000, Moran received 74,404 (79.84%) "yes" votes, and 18,783 (20.16%) "no" votes.

In December 1992, Moran was placed on 'restricted duty' while Madison County prosecutors investigated charges by an 11-year-old girl that Moran molested her over a four-year period. A petition seeking state supervision of the girl was dropped in 1993 and criminal charges were never filed.

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