Election Law

3 sitting judges can run for election rather than retention, hearing officer rules

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Three sitting judges in Southern Illinois can opt to run for election to seats on the bench instead of asking voters to approve their retention, a state hearing officer has ruled

His recommendation that the trio remain on the ballot concerns St. Clair County Chief Circuit Judge John Baricevic and Circuit Judges Robert Haida and Robert LeChien. To win an election, a majority of votes is all that is required, while retention requires 60 percent, the Belleville News-Democrat reports. All three judges are Democrats.

Attorney David Herman of Springfield served as the hearing officer. He said the state constitution does not contain bar the trio from retiring at the end of 2016, yet running for a seat on the bench in the November 2016 general election, while currently serving as judges, according to the article. An earlier Belleville News-Democrat story provides additional details.

The Illinois State Board of Elections will meet Wednesday to decide whether to accept Herman’s recommendation.

Belleville City Clerk Dallas Cook, a Republican running for the county circuit clerk’s job, objected to the judges seeking to maintain seats on the bench via a general election. He called the ruling in their favor “just one person’s opinion” and told the newspaper he will appeal all the way to the state supreme court, if necessary.

Baricevic and Haida are each seeking the seat currently held by the other judge, while LeChien will seek election to the seat left vacant by his own retirement.

The article doesn’t include any comment from the judges.

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