Madison County to get new associate judgeship

Ann Knef Apr. 5, 2006, 10:31am

Judge Ed Ferguson

Dave Hylla

Steve Stobbs

Madison County will gain a new associate judge next month due to a six-year-old census report.

A total of 26 new associate judge positions that were statutorily authorized by population gains reflected in the 2000 U.S. Census report may soon be filled statewide, at least in Madison County.

The last time an associate judge position became available in the Third Circuit -- upon the retirement of Judge Lola Maddox on Nov. 30, 2004 -- 14 area attorneys took out applications:

Stephen Stobbs, David Hylla, Duane Bailey, Donald Flack, Allen Gilliard Jr., John Haynes, Janet Rae Heflin, Keith Jensen, Susan Jensen, Robert Larson, Martin Mengarelli, Dennis Orsey, John Rekowski and Greg Roosevelt.

Heflin, an Edwardsville family law attorney, received at least five votes on a first ballot to earn the associate judge title.

A few attorneys contacted for comment declined to announce their intention to take out an application.

"Obviously I've had some interest in the judiciary," said Stobbs. "So I will certainly take a look at it."

Courthouse chatter speculating that Hylla would get the nod so that when his name appears on the November ballot as candidate for Circuit Judge, it will have the title "judge" before it, was debunked by Hylla.

He said he had not yet even considered the possibility.

Spokesman for the Illinois Supreme Court, Joe Tybor, said budgetary concerns kept the positions from being filled before now.

Information was not immediately available as to whether the 20th Circuit, including St. Clair County, would gain an additional associate position.

Madison County Chief Judge Ed Ferguson said that interested parties have until May 5 to turn in applications to the Administrative Office of the Illinois Supreme Court.

The process for filling the new position is similar to how associate judges are normally selected -- by election of the county's nine circuit judges.

In this instance, applications for the new judgeship will go directly to the court's Administrative Office, Ferguson said.

The Court will certify the list of applicants and makes it public, he said. Ballots will then be sent to each judge who is given two weeks to return the confidential ballot.

If no candidate receives the majority of at least five votes, a second balloting takes place for the top two contenders and any tied vote-getters.

Ferguson said there is no limit to the number of applicants who may be considered.

"We've had as few as 10 and as many as 30," he said.

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