United States Magistrate Judge Donald G. Wilkerson has been reappointed to a new eight year term in the Southern District of Illinois.

The announcement was made in a press release this morning.

A 10-member merit retention panel led by Belleville attorney Bruce Cook had been formed in May to consider Wilkerson's appointment.

The panel took into consideration comments from members of the bar and the public as to Wilkerson's character, judgment, legal ability, temperament and commitment to equal justice under the law.

Belleville attorneys LaToya Berry, Jerald Bonifield, Untress Quinn, Chi-Yong Throckmartin and Samantha Unsell; assistant U.S. Attorney Suzanne Garrison and Wood River attorney Daniel Schattnik also served on the merit retention panel. It also included two non-attorneys, former Belleville police chief Terry Delaney and Rosario Stobbs of Alton.

As magistrate judge, Wilkerson handles pretrial civil and criminal matters, civil trials (with the consent of the parties), and settlement conferences in civil cases.

His current term expires Jan. 3, 2013, and his new term begins Jan. 4, 2013.

Wilkerson, a native of East St. Louis, is the first African-American appointed to the bench in the Southern District of Illinois. He received his bachelor of science degree from Illinois State University in 1973, his master's degree in Education from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in 1978, and graduated from the evening program of St. Louis University School of Law (cum laude) in 1993.

He has previous experience in private practice and as an assistant U.S. attorney. He is a native of East St. Louis and a lifelong resident of southern Illinois.

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