Judge Jan Fiss

Judge Lloyd Cueto

St. Clair County Circuit Judges Jan Fiss, Milton Wharton and Lloyd Cueto were sworn into office Monday morning by Fifth Appellate Court Judge James K. Donovan before a gathering of approximately 20 well-wishers.

In the election Nov. 7, Fiss and Wharton were retained by more than 60 percent of voters. Cueto won a contested race with 53 percent of the vote.

Wharton remarked that the recent campaign, in which some judicial races became hard-fought battlegrounds, was like no other in his experience. He has been a circuit judge since 1988.

"Out of this came a new awareness that things are not going to be as they were," Wharton said.

He welcomed "greater transparency" in the courts and called for diversity on the bench that more closely reflects the circuit's population.

Wharton also said judges should not come from just one political party. He suggested that fellow circuit judges "bend over backwards" and open the bench up to Republicans.

There are 25 circuit and associate judges in the 20th Circuit, and all are Democrats.

Wharton indicated he would not seek retention again after his current term expires in 2012, at which time he will be 65.

He said his "final mandate" will be to address the procession of young black males that stream from the county jail to the courthouse.

"I'm disturbed that more are not disturbed," he said.

Wharton called on members of the bench to be advocates for change with him.

Fiss said he was grateful to his constituents and those who voted for him. He also credited his colleagues for running "intelligent and energetic" campaigns from which he benefitted.

Cueto thanked voters he said "treated me kindly." He said he made a pledge to voters to be fair, impartial and conscientious.

"That's a pledge I will keep," he said.

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