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Attorney-turned-judge planning a run to retain his seat

DIXON – A longtime Lee County attorney and twice-appointed judge plans to ask voters to let him keep his robe.

Fifteenth District Circuit Judge Court Douglas E. Lee, 57, is seeking the circuit judgeship opening created when Judge Daniel A. Fish retired in January.

On Jan. 2, Lee took the bench to fill the spot left when Associate Judge Jacquelyn Ackert was promoted to circuit judge after Ron Jacobson retired; he held that spot for about 6 months, until he replaced Fish as circuit judge on July 9.

“I made my intention to run for this seat publicly known some time ago, but now that nominating petitions are being circulated, I believe it’s appropriate to formally announce my candidacy,” Lee said in a news release Thursday.

Lee will make a formal announcement at 8:15 a.m. Oct. 4 in the old Lee County Courthouse in Dixon, and again at noon in the Lincoln-Douglas Debate Square in downtown Freeport.

Associate judges are appointed. Circuit judges are appointed only to finish the term of a judge who leaves the job; otherwise, they are elected.

The primary is March 17; the general election Nov. 3.

“It was an extreme honor to be appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court to fill Judge Fish’s term,” Lee said in the release.

“I’m working as hard as I can to maintain our circuit’s reputation for outstanding circuit judges.”

Lee is one of eight circuit judges in the 15th Judicial Circuit, which covers Lee, Ogle, Carroll, Stephenson and Jo Daviess counties.

As one of three at-large circuit judges, he must run in every county.

Before taking the bench, Lee practiced commercial and civil law for 27 years with Ehrmann Gehlbach Badger Lee & Considine and its predecessor firms in Dixon.

Before returning home to Dixon in 1991, he practiced for 4 years with the Washington, D.C., office of Baker & Hostetler.

“I believe my 31 years of experience prepared me well for the bench,” Lee said. “Over a period of time like that, you see a little bit of everything and practice before a wide range of judges.”

Lee graduated summa cum laude from the Northwestern University School of Law and magna cum laude from the University of Illinois.

His community commitment has included service on the boards of directors of KSB Hospital, Open Sesame Child Care Center, the Dixon Area of Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Lee County Industrial Development Association. Lee, who also served eight years on the Dixon school board, was named Dixon’s Citizen of the Year in 2001.

Lee and his wife, Ann, have two adult children.

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