Madison - St. Clair Record

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Hightower is only local judge not re-appointed by elected circuit judge colleagues


By Ann Maher | Jun 6, 2019

Hightower and Julian

Third Judicial Circuit judges have re-appointed 12 of 13 Madison County associate judges, according to a release from the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts.

Madison County Associate Judge Jennifer Hightower was among five associate judges out of 391 in the state who did not receive the requisite three-fifth support among their elected circuit judges to earn another four-year term. The current term ends June 30.

The June 5 notice comes a month after the Illinois State Bar Association released results of its advisory poll, in which local attorneys rated Hightower with a 62.60 "meets requirements of office," falling below a 65 score that would have garnered her a "recommendation."

According to the ISBA, 528 ballots were mailed to attorneys who practice in Madison and Bond counties (the Third Judicial Circuit); 189 ballots were returned and 126 attorneys - representing 24 percent of those who received ballots - evaluated Hightower.

Newly seated Madison County Chief Judge Bill Mudge said that the non re-appointment of Hightower by the circuit's nine elected judges was "unexpected."

"We enjoy a very good associate judge bench, teamed with men and women with experience, wisdom and a great work ethic," he said in an emailed message. "We will move on, go through another application process and see where it takes us.

"As to why four or more judges decided not to retain Judge Hightower, I do not think anyone benefits from speculation. But everyone should bear in mind that a person just lost her job in a public way, and I hope that everyone will be mindful and respectful of that and maintain some dignity about it."

Other judges in the Third Judicial Circuit (all Democrats, except Stobbs) who have been re-appointed to terms that end June 30, 2023, followed by their ISBA scores, are:

Philip Alfeld, 93.08

Thomas Chapman, 86.96

Ronald Foster, Jr., 93.86

Clarence Harrison, 95.24

Janet Heflin, 83.64

Anthony Jumper, 95.28

Martin Mengarelli, 95.62

Neil Schroeder, 96.30

Maureen Schuette, 93.22

Ronald Slemer, 93.98

Stephen Stobbs, 97.42

In the Twentieth Judicial Circuit, all 12 associate judges - all Democrats - have been re-appointed. They were recommended in the ISBA advisory poll with the following approval ratings:

Stacy Campbell, 92.11

Thomas Cannady, 95.24

William Clay, 92.22

Patrick Foley, 96.23

Julia Gomric, 93.48

Eugene Gross, 100

Kevin Hoerner, 94.35

Julie Katz, 96.71

Patricia Kievlan, 76.36

Alana Mejias, 93.81

Tameeka Purchase, 93.75

Jeffrey Watson, 97.22.

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