Stack to head Madison County's Civil Division

Ann Knef Jul. 18, 2006, 12:16pm

Judge Stack

Chief Judge Callis

Judge Romani

Judge Knight

Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack has been tapped to head the Third Circuit's Civil Division.

He will replace Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron.

"Our civil courts have come under strong criticism in the last several years, some of it deserved, some less so," Stack stated in a press release issued late Tuesday afternoon. "My goal is to restore the image of our court system with the public and make certain that everyone who enters our court system is treated fairly and impartially."

In 1990, Stack lost a Democratic primary race for circuit judge to Byron by a slim margin.

In October 2004, Stack took over management of Madison County's crammed asbestos docket from Byron.

Circuit Judge Ann Callis, who took over as Madison County's chief judge May 1, has instituted several reforms in a venue frequently criticized as plaintiff-friendly. Measures include limits on cases filed by out-of-state lawyers and substitution of judge motions, as well restrictions on cases filed under seal.

Callis was first appointed circuit judge in December 1999 at age 35 upon the death of Judge J. Lawrence Keshner.

She is running for retention in the Nov. 7 general election, along with Circuit Judges Charles Romani and John Knight.

"I was convinced that we needed to make a leadership change in the civil courts division," said Chief Judge Ann Callis who ordered the change.

"Dan will bring new energy and a commitment to improving our court system to the rol of chief of the civil division," Callis stated in a press release.

"He has won praise for his fair and efficient handling of the asbestos docket since he took it over earlier this year and, in a series of important rulings on forum shopping and class action case certification, Judge Stack has sent a clear message that he is committed to reform."

Callis stated that she and Judge Stack share a "commitment to restoring public confidence in our legal system."

"Our goal as judges is to apply the law fairly and impartially, so that anyone who comes into our court system knows they can expect a fair shake," she said. "I believe that's what the people of our area expect and that's what this court system will deliver under the leadership team we have created."

Callis' press release singles out Democrat judges running for election or retention in the Third Circuit.

She stated that Judge Romani will continue as chief of the criminal court division -- a position he has held for more than a decade.

Callis also noted that Knight will continue to serve as the presiding judge at the Bond County courthouse in Greenville -- a position he has held for at least five years.

Associate Judge Barbara Crowder, who is a candidate for circuit judge, will continue to head the court's family division -- a position she has held off and on for several years, according to the press release.

Crowder, a Democrat, is facing her colleague, Associate Judge James Hackett, a Republican, who handles criminal cases, in the general election.

"Judge Romani is one of the most respected criminal judges in downstate Illinois and Judge Crowder has earned statewide attention for her role in reforming Illinois' family court system to protect children in custody cases," Callis stated. "Judge Knight is widely popular in Bond County, having served as state's attorney there before being named a judge."

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