Filling a judicial vacancy that was created upon the death of St. Clair County circuit judge Robert LeChien nearly two months ago remains in limbo as two authorities maintain different positions on how the process works for filling it.
A spokesman for the Illinois Supreme Court said that a request for the vacancy to be filled must come from the circuit court's chief judge, which has not yet occurred for the LeChien vacancy. After that, it's up to the Supreme Court Justice within the district where the vacancy exists - in this case Justice Lloyd Karmeier - to select a replacement. That person's name then goes for a vote before the full court, which normally adopts the justice's recommendation.
Justices can form screening committees to evaluate applicants or they can make a recommendation without a committee.
The last time a circuit vacancy existed in St. Clair County, then chief judge John Baricevic made a request that it be filled on the same day it was created when circuit judge Michael Cook stepped down May 29, 2013, amid a drug scandal.
Karmeier recommended that Stephen McGlynn fill the seat, and the Supreme Court appointed him three weeks after the request was made on June 19, 2013. McGlynn was then elected to that seat in 2014.
St. Clair County Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson, who, according to the Illinois Supreme Court is required make a request for filling the vacancy if it is to be filled, however, has stated that he has no power or authority to make judicial appointments, and has no involvement in initiating the process.
LeChien died on Aug. 31. He had served as a judge for 30 years. He had presided over major civil litigation and most recently handled chancery (foreclosures) and miscellaneous remedy cases.