The chairman of the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission (IWCC) has been tapped by the Madison County Democratic Party Central Committee to run for circuit judge in the Third Judicial Circuit.
Dennis Ruth was chosen by the Democrats earlier Wednesday evening in a unanimous vote and will run for the vacancy that will be created when Circuit Judge Edward Ferguson retires.
Ferguson is expected to finish his term to keep Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier, a Republican, from making an appointment to temporarily fill his spot on the bench.
"As a life-long Democrat, I am honored to get this endorsement and will work hard to live up to the support and confidence that has been placed in me," Ruth said.
Members of Madison County Democratic Central Committee reviewed candidates for the post. Ruth has spent 21 years in the legal profession, including many years practicing law in Madison County prior to being appointed an arbitrator for the IWCC.
An arbitrator in Illinois' Workers Compensation system is an administrative law judge, hearing workers compensation cases. As an arbitrator, Ruth heard more than 400 cases prior to being appointed a commissioner.
The 10 members of the commission serve as appeals court judges, hearing workers compensation case appeals. Ruth has heard more than 100 appeals cases as a commissioner and is now in his second term as commission chairman, overseeing Illinois' workers compensation system.
"For all of us in the legal profession, the opportunity to serve the public as a judge is one of the greatest honors our profession offers and a challenge," Ruth said.
"My experience as an arbitrator and a commissioner has given me extensive experience hearing cases as an administrative judge. I believe that this experience as an administrative law judge has prepared me well for the challenge of serving the public as a circuit judge."
On Aug. 9, the Democrats chose Madison County Associate Judge Richard Tognarelli to replace Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron, who is expected to retire at the end of his term in 2008 due to age restrictions.
Tognarelli has served as an associate judge since 2002, handling a variety of cases.
Prior to being appointed to the bench, he worked as a general practice lawyer in Collinsville for 30 years, 14 of which he served as an assistant state's attorney, handling the Collinsville docket.