Madison County Chief Judge David Hylla anticipates a shortage in available judges next month as he works to fill five open associate judge positions.
The positions were left vacant after the elected Third Judicial Circuit judges voted to retain eight of the 13 associate judges.
“Their terms end on July 1, so my number one priority is to get their vacancies filled as soon as possible,” Hylla said. “So we can have a seamless transition and no delays and have all our dockets covered.”
Hylla said he is doing everything he can to speed the process up, but said it is unlikely that the positions will be filled and the new judges will be assigned their dockets until the end of July.
In the meantime, the circuit judges and retained associate judges will be doubling up on dockets, creating a shortage of judges and potential delays.
Those who weren’t reappointed are Duane Bailey, Ben Beyers, Donald Flack, David Grounds and Elizabeth Levy.
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), which includes Madison County, there are nine elected circuit judges – meaning it takes a minimum of four judges to vote against retaining an associate judge.
Michael J. Tardy, director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, announced Thursday that 376 of the 384 Illinois associate judges seeking reappointment have been reinstated. Of the eight that lost their positions in Illinois, the Third Judicial Circuit saw the largest number of associate judges to not receive the required three-fifths, or 60 percent, of the votes to be retained.
Hylla said each elected judge is allowed their own private vote, and he didn’t know why these five were not reappointed.
“For me to speculate, I don’t think that would be fair for anyone,” he said.
While they each received evaluations above the threshold of 65 in a judicial evaluation poll conducted by the Illinois State Bar Association, the five judges were among those who received the lowest ratings in the Third Judicial Circuit.
Beyers, first appointed in 2011, was rated 65.36. Bailey, first appointed in 2007, was rated 71.93.
Other judges in the Third Circuit rated notably lower than their peers in the “meets requirements of office” category were Flack with a rating of 79.64 and Levy with a rating of 76.28.
Flack has served since 2012 and Levy since 2009.
Grounds, first appointed in 2003, received the highest rating of the five judges at 81.76.
The process to fill the open positions begins after the Illinois Supreme Court chief judge gives his approval to post notices of the vacancies. Once approved, Hylla would send notices to various organizations, such as the Illinois Bar Association.
Attorneys and former judges would then have 30 days to apply for one of the vacant associate judge positions.
The Madison County circuit judges will get the ballots individually and have 14 days to submit their votes.
The eight associate judges who were retained are:
Philip B. Alfeld
Clarence W. Harrison, II
Martin J. Mengarelli
Ronald R. Slemer
Neil T. Schroeder
Stephen A. Stobbs