A longtime prosecutor from the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s office who had recently been appointed associate judge died Sunday.
Joseph Christ, 49, had been sworn in just 13 days ago.
According to St. Clair County Chief Judge John Baricevic, Christ died of natural, but unknown causes.
“In my little world, Joe was one of the good guys," Baricevic said. "Whatever one needed out of somebody, he was there as a husband, father, employee, friend, active in the community, active in his party, active in his church, always with a smile and always ready to help."
Christ was a prosecutor for almost 18 years, working on cases involving violent crime and homicides.
“Joe was a lot of fun to be around, and he had a great disposition,” St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly said.
“There’s so many homicide cases he worked on. So many victims and families of victims that he worked with that helped him go through the process of going through the justice system, trying to get some peace and justice. He had a very good way with people.
“We spent most of the day in the office with people sharing stories about Joe and experiences they had with him, had a lot of laughs admidst all the sadness. Amidst all the emotions, we have trials proceeding this week and everyone soldiers on and moves forward with the case, because that’s what Joe would do. Despite the circumstances, he would find a way to bring it all together in the end.”
Kelly added that Christ treated his witnesses with respect, which showed at trial.
Baricevic described Christ as “very competent.”
“When you talked to Joe, you were the most important person in the world to him during that conversation with him," Baricevic said. "He was a quality person. He would have been an excellent judge and was for 10 days."
Christ received his undergraduate degrees in 1986 from Illinois State University in Normal and his law degree in 1993 from Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich. He was admitted into practice by the Illinois Supreme Court in 1994.
Associate judges are chosen by the circuit’s elected judges. In the 20th judicial circuit, which includes St. Clair, Monroe, Perry, Randolph and Washington counties, there are 11 circuit judges.
The Illinois Supreme Court controls the process of reappointing an associate circuit judge, Baricevic said.
“We’re not spending much time worrying about that. We’ll start that process after taking care of Joe,” Baricevic said.
Christ was assigned to hear domestic violence cases.