New associate judge says it's 'only fitting' he now presides over cases

Steve Gonzalez May 15, 2007, 9:00am

More than 100 attorneys and law enforcement officials attended Madison County Associate Judge Keith Jensen's swearing-in ceromony May 14.

Jensen will fill a newly created associate judgeship position in the Third Judicial Circuit as authorized by the Illinois Supreme Court based on figures from the 2000 census.

Jensen was selected in the second round of balloting over Edwardsville attorney Tom Gibbons.

During the ceremony he said it was "only fitting" that he now gets to preside over cases.

Jensen graduated from Normal Community High School in 1970 and received his bachelor's degree from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1974. He earned his law degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1977.

He has tried many criminal cases while working for the Madison and St. Clair County States' Attorneys offices and also practiced civil litigation both as a defense and plaintiff attorney.

From 1996 to 2003 Jensen prosecuted drug and murder cases as the director for the Violent Crimes Strike Force.

Jensen left the Illinois State Police as the department's chief counsel to accept the associate judge position.

In Illinois, associate judges are secretly elected by a circuit's elected judges. Every four years all of the associate judges have to be retained by the circuit judges even if they have only served for several days.

All of Madison County associate judges are due for a retention vote this year, including Jensen who will barely have served on the bench.

In Madison County applicants need a majority of five votes to be elected as an associate judge and six votes to be retained.

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