Ann Maher Aug. 13, 2015, 10:53am


(Editor's note: This story has been updated with respect to the re-balloting procedure and to reflect that applicant Sarah Smith is an assistant Madison County State's Attorney).

Three applicants who've made it onto a short list of candidates for associate judge are ones who recently lost their jobs.

Donald Flack, Ben Beyers and Elizabeth Levy, who served as associate judges until their terms expired June 30, are among 11 who will be considered in a run-off election to fill five vacancies in the Third Judicial Circuit.

Associate judges are appointed to their positions through a vote by the circuit’s elected judges. In the Third Judicial Circuit - Madison and Bond counties - there are nine elected circuit judges. 

According to Supreme Court Rule 39, candidates receiving the most votes shall be declared to be appointed to fill the vacancies. When a tie prevents a winner from being declared, re-balloting proceeds as it would in a first ballot round, except that ballots would only include names of candidates whose tied votes prevented a winner from being declared.

According to a press release from Chief Judge Dave Hylla, ballots will be mailed to the circuit judges who will have 14 days to submit them.

The short list of 11 candidates was narrowed from 46 applicants. The new contenders include six men; five women and four African Americans. All are Democrats. There were four Republican applicants. 

Aside from Flack, Beyers and Levy, the other eight on the short list are:

-Bond County State's Attorney Christopher Bauer;

-Madison County public defender Timothy Berkley;

-Alton attorney Rodney Caffey, who concentrates on personal injury, maritime and products liability cases;

-Simmons' firm associate Jennifer Hightower, who focuses toxic tort litigation;

-Shrader and Associates asbestos attorney Allyson Romani, whose father Charles Romani is a retired Third Circuit judge;

-Edwardsville attorney Maureen Schuette, who specializes in family law;

-Alton attorney Luther Simmons, a general practictioner; and

-Assistant Madison County State's Attorney Sarah Smith.

Former associate judges Duane Bailey and David Grounds also applied for the vacancies that their departures helped create, however they did not make the cut.

The Alton chapter of the 100 Black Men of America reacted negatively to the non-reappointment of Bailey and Beyers.

Chapter president Bobby Collins, Sr. said the move to not retain five of the judges was a “smoke screen” to cover an alleged racially motivated act.

“We the 100 Black Men are very much aware of the retention process," Collins wrote in a letter to Hylla. "We understand the court's desire to promote diversity, but it should not and can not be at the expense of Mr. Bailey and Mr. Beyers." 

The group urged the court to retain both Bailey and Beyers.

The list of 11 run-off applicants reflects endorsements made by the Madison County Democratic organization and local labor.

Organizations in this Story

Shrader & Associates/Illinois
22 Ginger Creek Pkwy
Glen Carbon, IL 62034

Simmons Hanly Conroy
1 Court St
Alton, IL 62002

The Caffey Law Firm
3017 Godfrey Rd
Godfrey, Ill. 62035

Madison County Circuit Court
157 N Main St
Edwardsville, IL 62025

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