DIXON – A longtime Whiteside County healthcare attorney was chosen to become a new associate judge in the 15th Judicial Circuit.
Theresa Friel-Draper will replace Associate Judge Doug Lee, who has been promoted to circuit judge.
Friel-Draper, of Amboy, has been chief operating officer of the Whiteside County Community Health Clinic in Rock Falls since August 2003 as well as the assistant public health administrator for county Health Department.
Prior to that, she was in-house legal counsel for CGH Medical Center for 22 years and spent a year as an assistant state’s attorney in Lee County.
Friel-Draper received her juris doctor from IIT-Chicago Kent and bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Iowa.
The appointment is the latest of a list of changes in the 15th, where Judge Daniel Fish, a circuit judge in Lee County since July 2008, announced in May that he is retiring July 8 – the third judge to retire since September 2017.
Fish’s seat will be filled by Lee, whom the Illinois Supreme Court appointed to the spot on April 29. Lee will begin his role as circuit judge on July 9.
Fish, 64, also is the circuit’s chief judge; those duties will pass to Judge Robert T. Hanson, who is based in the Ogle County Courthouse.
In December, Judge Ronald Jacobson retired at age 61. Associate Judge Jacquelyn Ackert, 51, replaced him as a circuit judge; Lee, 56, was appointed to her associate’s spot on Jan. 2.
Friel-Draper, 60, was picked from a pool of eight attorneys considered for the judgeship: Lee County State’s Attorney Matt Klahn, former Ogle County State’s Attorney Michael C. Rock, Paul A. Osborn, Michelle Buckwalter-Schurman, Tina J. Coffey, Dana M. Considine, and Darla A. Foulker.
The 15th Judicial Circuit covers Lee, Ogle, Carroll, Stephenson and Jo Daviess counties. All judges handle essentially the same type of cases; associate judges are appointed and district judges are elected.