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LEE COUNTY Chief Judge Fish retiring after a decade on the bench

Associate Judge Lee appointed to fill out the term

DIXON – Judge Daniel Fish, who has served as a circuit judge in Lee County since July 2008, is retiring July 8. 

Fish, who is the chief judge of the 15th Judicial Circuit, has heard a variety of cases during his tenure and now hears most of the lawsuits and juvenile matters pending in Lee County. 

“I have greatly enjoyed my time on the bench,” said Fish, 64. “It truly has been an honor and a privilege to serve the people of the 15th Judicial Circuit. An effective and efficient judicial system is important to our community, and I am pleased that I was able to contribute to it.” 

Fish’s seat will be filled by Associate Judge Douglas Lee, who the Illinois Supreme Court appointed to the spot on April 29. Lee will begin his role as circuit judge on July 9. 

Applications to fill Lee’s associate judgeship are due June 8; applicants must be attorneys in good standing who live in Lee, Ogle, Carroll, Stephenson or Jo Daviess counties, which comprise the 15th District.

“While I am sorry to see Judge Fish retire, I am humbled by the Supreme Court’s confidence in me,” Lee said. “I look forward to serving the 15th Judicial Circuit in a different role and pledge to work as hard as I can to be the best circuit judge I can be.” 

It’s been a year of changes in the Lee County Courthouse.

In December, Judge Ronald Jacobson retired at age 61, Associate Judge Jacquelyn Ackert, 51, replaced him, and Lee, 56, was appointed to her associate’s spot on Jan. 2.

His appointment as circuit judge runs through the last day of Fish’s term, Dec. 7, 2020. Lee said he intends to run to retain the circuit position in the Republican primary election in March 2020 and, if successful, in that November’s general election. 

“Many lawyers and others throughout the circuit supported me when I applied for the associate position last year,” Lee said. “I hope to be able to count on that support in the primary and general elections. Judge Fish made and maintained many relationships throughout the circuit when he ran, and I hope to do the same.” 

Lee took the bench after spending almost 27 years practicing law in Dixon, most recently with Ehrmann Gehlbach Badger Lee & Considine. Before returning to Dixon to practice law in 1991, Lee practiced for 4 years in Washington, D.C., with Baker & Hostetler. 

While he was in private practice, Lee served on the KSB Hospital board of directors, the Dixon school board and the board of directors of Open Sesame Child Care Center. He also was involved with boards and committees of the Dixon Area Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the Lee County Industrial Development Association and St. Anne Catholic Church. 

Lee was named Dixon’s Citizen of the Year in 2001. 

Before taking the bench, Fish served three terms as the Lee County State’s Attorney and worked in private practice for 7 years. In all, Fish has been practicing law or working as a judge since 1981. 

“It’s time for me to step down,” Fish said. “I’m looking forward to traveling and spending time with my family.” 

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