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Criminal defense part of Suits’ background

Other candidates were former assistant state's attorneys

Published: Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012 1:15 a.m. CDT
Tom Suits

OREGON – Polo attorney Tom Suits, who is being recommended for Ogle County state’s attorney, was the only candidate without experience as an assistant state’s attorney.

But he has done criminal defense and served as a prosecutor for the city of Polo.

Suits, who was admitted to the bar in 1990, has a law practice specializing in probate law, estate planning, real estate law and business law, according to his website.

Until a few years ago, it also advertised that he did criminal defense work, he said.

As Polo’s city attorney, Suits prosecuted misdemeanor cases such as DUIs and batteries for a number of years.

He also worked for the Ogle County state’s attorney’s office as a senior law school student and for a time after he graduated with a law degree from Northern Illinois University. He worked felony cases with an assistant state’s attorney during that time.

While a state’s attorney has a management role, Suits said he also wants to prosecute cases.

“I want to help with some of the more serious cases. It’s important to be in the courtroom.”

Friday, Ogle County Board Chairman Kim Gouker announced that Suits was his choice to replace Ben Roe as state’s attorney. Roe is leaving the job because he was appointed to replace retiring Ogle County Circuit Judge Michael Mallon on Nov. 8, 2 days after Roe won re-election to his third term.

The other candidates for the position were Robin Minnis, Eric Morrow and Mike Rock, all of whom are former assistant state’s attorneys.

Gouker said he and other members of an interviewing committee liked Suits’ “well-rounded” experience.

“This position requires someone who knows the law and manages people,” Gouker said. “We felt that with all of the interviews we had, he was the one with a better background. We didn’t want to do a hiring based on resumes.”

Gouker has the power to appoint a state’s attorney, subject to the County Board’s approval. The board will vote on Suits today.

In an interview after the application deadline on Wednesday, Gouker revealed the names of the candidates for state’s attorney, but he didn’t include Suits.

Monday, Gouker said he had received Suits’ email expressing interest at 11:24 a.m. Wednesday – before the noon deadline – but he wasn’t aware of it until after naming the other three candidates.

If the County Board votes for Suits, he will fill the first 2 years of Roe’s 4-year term. Then the office will be up for election in 2014.

To attend

The Ogle County Board meets at 5:30 p.m. today on the third floor of the Ogle County Courthouse, 105 S. Fifth St. in Oregon.

The board will consider appointing Polo attorney Tom Suits as the new state's attorney.

For an agenda for this meeting, minutes from past meetings or more information, go to www.oglecounty.org or call 815-732-1110.

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