In the spotlight, Gleeson doesn't mind media scrutiny

Amelia Flood Jul. 23, 2009, 11:14am

In spite of being thrust into the media spotlight this week, St. Clair County Associate Judge Andrew Gleeson doesn't believe his role as judge should take center stage in a court room.

"A good judge is a judge who's not seen," Gleeson said during a phone interview July 21.

Days earlier, a ruling Gleeson made in a case brought by Amiel Cueto made front page news in the local press for a couple of days running.

"The cases aren't about us," Gleeson said. "We shouldn't be the center of attention."

Becoming a lawyer was not a life-long dream of Gleeson's. With six years experience in St. Clair County's judiciary, the judge said he came to law by chance at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

Gleeson said some of his dorm mates were taking the LSAT – a law school entrance exam – so he decided to as well. That whim took him to St. Louis University's law school and eventually evolved into a legal career which has led to the bench.

"The law is what I've done my whole adult life," the 49 year-old said.

Gleeson acknowledged that it is sometimes beyond his control when attention is turned to the judge presiding over a case.

He is currently presiding over the wrongful death suit brought by the family of murder victims Sheri Coleman and her sons, Gavin and Gareth. The family is suing Sheri Coleman's husband, Chris, who is currently charged with the three murders.

Gleeson has also overseen cases involving the Belleville News-Democrat and whether search warrants were open to the public.

However, the media scrutiny doesn't bother him, he said. In fact, he welcomes it.

"I'm a believer that our courtrooms should be open and the more people know about us, the more confident they are," Gleeson said. "I wish there were more reporters in my courtroom that could hear the arguments and the questions I ask from the bench."

Although he can't recall any favorite cases, Gleeson's assignment to the Chancery Court is challenging, he said.

"Nearly every day I get something interesting and intellectually stimulating."

Prior to becoming a judge, Gleeson was in private general practice. He later became an assistant public defender from 1991 to 2003 in St. Clair County. He was the Chief Public Defender for 2003.

Gleeson is married with no children.

In addition to his days on the bench, Gleeson is an adjunct professor in the paralegal studies department at Southwestern Illinois College.

In his free time, the Gleeson says he doesn't have many hobbies outside of the occasional run or athletic activity.

"I'm not flying a plane or jumping off a mountain," he said.

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