St. Clair County Circuit Judge Andrew Gleeson was elected chief judge of the Twentieth Judicial Circuit last week, succeeding the outgoing Circuit Judge John Baricevic.
“I’m just getting started so it’s baptism by fire," Gleeson said. "I’ve got big shoes to fill and obviously with any new assignment or job there’s a learning curve so I’ve got my nose to the grindstone taking it in day-by-day.”
Gleeson, who indicated he did not anticipate in advance being named chief judge, said he looks to bring integrity to his new administrative role and to ensure due process is achieved.
“I wasn’t expecting this assignment,” he said. “It’s not one that I sought.”
While Gleeson has worked in the legal system for 31 years, he said he still wants to acquaint himself with the position before he makes any changes.
“I’m going to make that assessment as I go and listen to the diverse voices that exist here at the courthouse and make a decision on how we move forward,” Gleeson said.
Baricevic, Democrat, lost the general election to Republican Ron Duebbert last month.
Had he stood for retention, Baricevic would have run unopposed, but would have needed at least 60 percent voter approval in the five counties of the circuit - St. Clair, Monroe, Randolph, Perry and Washington - rather than just a simple majority.
Baricevic, however, gained an opponent when he and circuit judges Robert LeChien and Robert Haida submitted resignations in advance in August 2015 and thereby created vacancies to their positions. They opted to run for election to the vacancies they created which would only require 50 percent plus one to win.
LeChien, Democrat, also picked up an opponent and defeated Republican Laninya Cason in a St. Clair County-only race for the resident judge position. Had he stood for retention, LeChien would have had to run in all five counties.
Haida, Democrat, was elected without opposition.