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Lee County state's attorney up for associate judge

Klahn one of eight attorneys vying in the 15th Circuit

DIXON – Lee County State’s Attorney Matt Klahn is among eight attorneys being considered for a 15th Judicial Circuit associate judgeship.

Klahn, 40, of Lee County, was elected state’s attorney in 2016; before that, he was an assistant state’s attorney under Anna Sacco-Miller.

The new associate judge will be chosen in 2 to 3 weeks by a vote of the circuit’s eight district judges. The public is invited to submit comments on the candidates by Monday.

There’s been a bit of musical chairs going on as of late at the 15th, where Judge Daniel Fish, who has served as 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 the promotion of Associate Judge Douglas 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. Lee, 56, was appointed to her associate’s spot on Jan. 2.

Klahn and the others – former Ogle County State’s Attorney Michael C. Rock, Paul A. Osborn, Michelle Buckwalter-Schurman, Tina J. Coffey, Dana M. Considine, Darla A. Foulker, and Theresa M. Friel-Draper – seek to replace Lee.

Rock, 52, of Byron, is chief of staff at the Winnebago County state’s attorney’s office. He was appointed Ogle County state’s attorney in January 2013, when his boss, John B. “Ben” Roe, replaced a retiring 15th Circuit judge. Rock lost the race to Eric Morrow in the March 2014 primary.

Coffey, 58, of Dixon is a senior judicial law clerk with the Illinois Supreme Court in Rock Island, while Buckwalter-Schurman, 49, of Mount Carroll practices in Morrison, with Nelson, Kilgus, Richey & Buckwalter-Schurman, where she handles divorce, paternity, adoptions and guardianships.

Osborn, 64, of Lee County, is the senior partner and president of Ward, Murray, Pace & Johnson in Sterling, Dixon and Erie.

Considine, 40, Amboy, is a partner at Ehrmann Gelbach Badger & Considine in Dixon, where she is a civil litigator.

Foulker, 41, of Dixon, also is with Ehrmann Gelbach Badger & Considine.

Friel-Draper, 60, of Amboy, is a contracts attorney.

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.

To comment

Those who wish to comment on any of the eight attorneys up for 15th Judicial Circuit associate judge should do so in writing and submit them no later than Monday to or to the Hon. Daniel A. Fish, Chief Judge, 106 S. Fifth St., Suite 306A, Oregon, IL 61061.

Anonymous comments will not be considered.

The 15th serves Ogle, Stephenson, Lee, Carroll and JoDaviess counties.

For more information call court administrators LeAnn Brandenburg, 815-732-1197, or Tom Schwamberger, 815-732-1197.

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