Illinois Supreme Court Justice Rita Garman says the applicants are Jacksonville attorney Amy Jackson and Morgan County state’s attorney Chris Reif.
Jackson has been a partner at Rammelkamp Bradney Law Offices since 2002. Her web profile page says she concentrates her practice in workers' compensation defense, insurance defense litigation, environmental law, and general trial practice. Jackson also serves as judge for the city of Jacksonville’s municipal court.
“When the opportunity for the resident circuit judge came about I was approached by a number of, I would say, lawyers and non-lawyers alike from around town with the request that I consider putting in an application,” says Jackson. “I gave that very sincere and very serious consideration, and believe that I have the legal skills, personality and experience necessary to fulfill the duties that are required of a resident circuit judge.”
Jackson previously applied for associate judge in Morgan County when Tim Olson retired. That appointment eventually went to Jeffrey Tobin.
Reif says becoming circuit judge in Morgan County is his ultimate career goal, right now.
“When I look at my career, so far, I spent seven or eight years in private practice involved in litigation and courtroom experience from child custody to divorce cases to personal injury cases,” says Reif. “I was a plaintiff’s attorney and won a jury trial as a plaintiff’s attorney and as a defense attorney. I was a public defender. I worked extensively in the civil and defense side, and now for eight years I’ve worked on the criminal side predominately along with handling civil matters for the county. I’ve handled about every type of case a prosecutor can.”
Reif has been Morgan County state’s attorney since winning election in 2004.
Justice Garman has established a screening committee to assess the qualifications of Jackson and Reif. Under the Illinois Constitution, judicial vacancies are filled by Supreme Court appointment until the next general election.
The screening committee consists of seven people from Jacksonville. Four committee members are non-lawyers and three are lawyers.
The non-lawyers are: Joy Becker, Jim Bruner, Tom Eoff and Dr. John Peterson.
The lawyers are: the Honorable David Bone - who has since retired from the bench, Eddie Carpenter, and Charles McNeely.
Bruner will serve as chairperson of the committee.
Members of the public are invited to submit comments concerning the applicants by writing to: Charles McNeely, secretary, Seventh Judicial Circuit Screening Committee, P.O. Box 970, Jacksonville, IL 62651.
Comments should be received by the committee before 5 p.m. on February 8th.
After the committee has received public input, gathered information and interviewed Jackson and Reif, it will report its findings to Justice Garman, who will then make a recommendation to the Supreme Court.
Jackson says it’s been indicated to her that the process will take about six weeks.
The person appointed to fill the vacancy will service until December 1st, 2014, when the position will be filled by the 2014 General Election.
The vacancy for circuit judge was left when Richard Mitchell retired on January 2nd.