Although the retirement of Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack is on a distant horizon, Madison County State's Attorney William Mudge already has his sights on the seat, hoping to make it two circuit judgships in a century for his family.
His grandfather, Dick Mudge, served as a Madison County Circuit Judge in the 1930s.
Last month, Mudge announced his run for the seat being left open by Stack's retirement at the end of his term in December 2010.
For Mudge, election to the seat would be "the culmination of my personal and professional experiences," he said in an interview with the Madison County Record Thursday.
Mudge said he will run in the same year as St. Clair County State's Attorney Robert Haida, who announced Tuesday that he would seek a circuit judgeship in St. Clair County that is being vacated when now-sitting St. Clair County Circuit Judge Patrick Young retires.
"I've always wanted to be someone who wants to protect the rights of individuals against arbitrariness," he said.
Mudge's legal career has spanned over 20 years, beginning in 1985 when he graduated from St. Louis University School of Law. He has been an assistant state's attorney in Madison County and was in private practice with Lucco, Brown & Mudge beginning in 1987. He has been Madison County State's Attorney for seven years.
The Edwardsville native said that his experiences in criminal law and on both the defendant's and plaintiff's side of civil law will greatly shape his time on the bench, if he wins next year's election.
"It's given me some balance, helping me to understand human nature, which will help me in ferreting out the facts and applying the law to them," Mudge said. "I think if you're a big corporation or an individual coming into the court, you should get a fair shake."
Mudge said he hopes to tackle what he sees as issues the county's courts still have with getting timely rulings and reasonable court dates, although he praised reform efforts that have been under way in the circuit.
Madison County has, until this year, been classified as a judicial "hell-hole," by the American Tort Reform Association.
And, the county has the second highest docket volume in the state outside of Cook County, according to a study conducted by the Illinois Civil Justice League.
"There's more work to be done," Mudge said. "I embrace the reforms that have been taking place over the last several years. We get lots of calls here … the overwhelming complaint I hear is 'I can't get my day in court.'"
Mudge said, if elected, he wants to practice what he called "judicial economy," to ensure speedy and fair trials and to keep cases moving forward. That desire complements what he said would likely be his judicial philosophy.
"Impartiality, fairness, promptness and decisiveness," Mudge said, summing up his views. "I don't want litigants to be in limbo and not know what's going on. Letting the parties be heard promptly and making prompt decisions."