“Great addition to the bench. Welcome soon-to-be Judge Stiehl!”
That’s the comment that appeared on our Facebook page beneath a link to last week’s article about William Stiehl Jr. being appointed to fill the vacancy created on the St. Clair County Circuit Court by the death of Robert LeChien.
The caption accompanying the post: “After nearly a year, Judge Gleeson asks the Supreme Court to fill the LeChien vacancy.”
You won’t believe this – we’re still bopping ourselves on the head with giant inflatable gavels in amazement – but the person commenting is the very person responsible for the extended vacancy.
Yep, St. Clair County Chief Circuit Judge Andrew “Fast as a Snail” Gleeson expressed his public approval of a replacement judge whose appointment he alone had purposely delayed.
Why did he do this? Naturally, we hate to speculate and are loath to judge a judge, but the possible explanation is that Gleeson is a partisan Democrat, the late LeChien was a partisan Democrat, most of the judges in St. Clair County (and Illinois overall) are Democrats, and the person empowered to name his successor – at Gleeson’s request, if he ever got around to making it – is a Republican: Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier.
As it happens, Karmeier did appoint a Republican jurist, but one who won’t be vying for the seat in the upcoming election – and whose term has been greatly abbreviated, thanks to Gleeson.
“The timing of Chief Judge Gleeson’s request, coming as it did so close to the upcoming elections, presented a unique challenge for the Court,” Karmeier commented. “We did not want to interfere in the fall judicial races by favoring any of the current candidates with the head start this interim appointment might provide. At the same time, there were obvious, practical difficulties in finding a competent attorney with the flexibility and desire to accept what will be an extremely brief appointment.”
Having succeeded in averting a long term Republican replacement for LeChien, the magnanimous Gleeson welcomes Stiehl to his three-month post.