Madison - St. Clair Record

Friday, October 18, 2019

As Fifth District gets reshaped, so too will lower courts in Third and First Judicial Circuits

By Ann Maher | Nov 21, 2016


The election of Judges John Barberis, 49, and James "Randy" Moore, 63, to the Fifth District Appellate Court ushers in relative youth to a bench where the average age is 68.2 years.

At 77, Thomas Welch is the oldest and longest-serving justice on the court, having been elected 36 years ago in 1980; his current term ends in 2020. At 72, Richard Goldenhersh is the second-longest serving justice, elected 28 years ago in 1988; his current term ends in 2018.

Rounding out the elected members of the court are Justices Melissa Chapman, 65, elected in 2002, and Judy Cates, 64, elected in 2012.

As Republicans, justices-elect Barberis and Moore bring the court to a 3-3 partisan balance, with the prospect of the court turning to a 4-3 majority when the Supreme Court fills an at-large seat through the recommendation of Republican Justice Lloyd Karmeier.

Moore, of Carterville, has occupied the at-large seat at the Fifth District since 2015, filling in for the remainder of Justice Stephen Spomer's term. Moore has been an elected circuit judge from Williamson County (First Judicial Circuit) since 2008. At least for the time being, Moore will be the only justice on the bench from outside the Metro-East.

Barberis of St. Jacob, was elected circuit judge in Madison County (Third Judicial Circuit) in 2014 and will become the third member on the appellate court from Madison County, along with Chapman, Democrat, and Welch, Republican.

Democrats Cates and Goldenhersh are from St. Clair County.

Upon his swearing-in, Barberis will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Justice Bruce Stewart of Harrisburg, Democrat. Moore will fill the vacancy of Justice James Wexstten of Mount Vernon, Democrat, who retired in 2014 before his term ended. Justice Gene Schwarm, Democrat, has filled the seat in the interim.

Not only is the Fifth District being reshaped, so too will the courts where Barberis and Moore have served as circuit judges.

Applications for the seats they leave behind are being accepted at Karmeier's Nashville office and are due Nov. 30.

Those interested in the Barberis vacancy must reside in Madison County. For the Moore vacancy, applicants must reside in Alexander, Jackson, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union or Williamson counties.

Over the last 12 years, the Madison County bench has seen the retirements of circuit judges including Ed Ferguson, Nicholas Byron, Dan Stack, Charles Romani after completing their full terms. They were succeeded by Democratic candidates. Only a handful of circuit judges have left before their terms expired in the last decade, which provided a Republican supreme court justice to make the interim appointment recommendation: judges Phillip Kardis in 2005, George Moran in 2006 and Ann Callis in 2013.

Don Weber was appointed to the Kardis vacancy; Lola Maddox to the Moran vacancy and James Hackett to the Callis vacancy.

Barberis and Associate Judge Clarence Harrison, Democrat, sought the Callis vacancy in 2014, with Barberis winning 54 to 46 percent. His election marked the first time in decades in which a Republican was elected to the bench.

(Editor's note: A previous edition of this story identified Justice Schwarm as a Republican. He is Democrat).

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