Madison County Associate Judge Luther Simmons’ retired Jan. 5 after serving on the bench for roughly two years, leaving an associate judge vacancy to be filled.
Simmons said he “thoroughly enjoyed” his time on the bench.
“There was not one day that I did not enjoy going to work, serving the people of Madison County to the best of my ability,” he said.
Simmons added that he feels “very honored” to have had the opportunity to serve the citizens of Madison County.
“I had a great time,” he said.
Simmons said he will take the rest of January off and will begin working for the Alton firm Simmons Hanly Conroy on Feb. 1.
“It was a good time for me to leave,” Simmons said. “This opportunity came along. I’ve never been a person that was afraid of change. In fact, I always sort of looked for change. It was just good timing to make another career move.”
He added that his job title and area of practice are not “set in stone.”
“I assume I’ll be working pretty much across the board,” he said.
Madison County Chief Judge David Hylla said he is already taking steps to fill the vacancy. The process begins with a letter to the AOIC requesting the Supreme Court to post a vacancy. He added that it is then up to the Supreme Court, saying it is their duty.
“I trigger the process by sending the letter,” Hylla said.
He said the Supreme Court will then decide if it will allow the circuit court to have a replacement depending on the state budget. If allowed, the Supreme Court will send out the notices and set the time periods for how long the application process is open.
Hylla had a draft of the letter sitting on his desk as of Monday afternoon.
Simmons was appointed an associate judge after five Madison County associate judges were not re-appointed in 2015. He was selected with current associate judges Donald M. Flack, Maureen D. Schuette, Jennifer Hightower and Sarah Smith.
He was sworn into office in October 2015.
Simmons said his time on the bench was a brief 27 months, but kept him busy.
He presided over the DUI docket, traffic court and criminal misdemeanors. He also presided over domestic violence cases for one year before the Domestic Violence Accountability Court was created and associate judge Ronald Slemer took the docket.
Simmons said his docket was a “high-volume” docket that was different every day and “never got old, never got boring.”
He added that he had the pleasure to work with great circuit clerks, and he came to appreciate how crucial they are to the administration of justice.
“They are really the grease that makes the wheel turn round, ”Simmons said.
Simmons received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia in 1970 and his juris doctor from St. Louis University in 1974.
Following his graduation, he began practicing law in 1974 at a firm in Alton. He worked therefor several years before he formed a partnership with retired Madison County Associate Judge Ralph Mendelsohn.
He and Mendelsohn practiced together until Mendelsohn was appointed to the bench in 2000. At that time, Simmons formed his private practice, Simmons & Associates, and worked part time with the public defender’s office.
He also briefly worked part time as an assistant state’s attorney and a special assistant attorney general before returning to the public defender’s office in 2001 to work part time.