Metro-East News

Your turn to be the judge: Candidates hope to win or hold judicial posts

Several judicial slots affecting the metro-east will be decided in the election Nov. 8.

Candidates are hoping to be elected to, or retained for, judgeships on the circuit court level and on the appellate level.

The Illinois State Bar Association conducts a poll of attorneys, asking them about the abilities of judicial candidates. Those poll results are listed below. Generally, candidates who fare poorly in the polls say the process is politically tainted or merely a popularity contest.

Illinois 5th District Appellate Court (Bruce Stewart vacancy)

Democrat Brad K. Bleyer will face Republican John B. Barberis Jr.

Barberis, of St. Jacob, currently serves as a Madison County circuit judge. He was elected to the bench in 2014.

Barberis received his undergraduate degree from Illinois State University and worked as a juvenile probation officer before receiving his law degree from Saint Louis University. He worked in private practice until he was elected to the bench.

Barberis and his wife, Laura, have been married for 24 years. They have three children.

Bleyer, of Carterville, was appointed to the bench in 2004 in the 1st Judicial Circuit, which includes the nine southern counties in Illinois. Bleyer received his undergraduate degree from Southern Illinois University and worked as a teacher and coach before graduating from SIUC School of Law in 1982.

Bleyer and his wife, Valeri, have been married for 28 years. The couple has two grown sons.

Illinois Bar Association Judicial Bar Poll ratings for Bleyer and Barberis:

  • Bleyer: Recommended, 96.99 percent of attorneys found he meets the requirements of office
  • Barberis: Not Recommended, 43.17 percent of attorneys found he meets the requirements of office

Illinois 5th District Appellate Court (James Wexstten vacancy)

Republican James R. “Randy” Moore will face Democrat Jo Beth Weber.

Weber, of Mount Vernon, received her undergraduate and law degree from the University of Illinois. She has worked in private practice, the Jefferson County state’s attorney’s office, the state appellate prosecutor’s office and appellate defender’s office and the general counsel’s office for Southern Illinois University.

Weber and her husband, Scott, have been married for 32 years and have two children.

Moore, of Carterville, graduated from Southern Illinois University Carbondale with a degree in economics and his law degree. Moore worked as a sole practitioner in Carterville for 28 years. He was appointed to the position of Jefferson County circuit judge in 2007.

Moore and his wife, Cindy, have been married more than 40 years and have eight children.

Illinois Bar Association Judicial Bar Poll ratings for Weber and Moore:

  • Weber: Recommended, 92.42 percent of attorneys found he meets the requirements of office
  • Moore: Not Recommended, 61.32 percent of attorneys found he meets the requirements of office

20th Judicial Circuit (St. Clair, Randolph, Monroe, Perry, Washington counties)

St. Clair County Circuit Judges John Baricevic, Robert Haida and Robert LeChien announced they would retire in December, but will run for the judge positions created by their retirement in November. The move allows them to avoid running for retention. Now, they will need to receive only one more vote than their opponents. In a retention vote, a judge needs to receive “yes” votes from at least 60 percent of voters.

Republican Laninya Cason will face LeChien, a Democrat.

Cason, of Belleville, received her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois. She received her law degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Cason worked as an associate at Hinshaw & Culberson. She became an associate judge in 2003, but lost the appointment in 2012 when she ran unsuccessfully for circuit judge against Zina Cruse.

“The main reason voters should cast their vote for me is my history of fairness and integrity. I would love to complete my judicial career. I worked for very hard to be the very best judge I could be, but I felt like I was stunted by the powers that be. Now I feel I can assert myself to be the kind of judge I know that I can be,” Cason said.

LeChien, of Belleville, received his undergraduate degree and law degree from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He served as an assistant state’s attorney, then worked in private practice until he was appointed as an associate judge in 1987. He was elected as a circuit judge in 1996.

LeChien is married and has three children.

Illinois Bar Association Judicial Bar Poll ratings for Cason and LeChien:

  • Cason: Not Recommended, 21.81 percent of attorneys found she meets the requirements of office.
  • LeChien: Recommended, 69.91 percent of attorneys found he meets the requirements of office.

Baricevic, a Democrat, will face Republican Ron Duebbert.

Duebbert received his law degree from the University of Illinois. He has been in private practice trying cases in 40 counties around Illinois.

Baricevic has served as St. Clair County state’s attorney, St. Clair County Board Chairman and chief judge.

He and his wife, Marti, have four children, including C. J. Baricevic, a Belleville attorney who is running for Congress.

Illinois Bar Association Judicial Bar Poll ratings for Duebbert and Baricevic:

  • Duebbert: Not Recommended, 26.97 percent of attorneys found he meets the requirements of office
  • Baricevic: Recommended, 88.58 percent of attorneys found he meets the requirements of office

Haida, a Democrat, is unopposed.

Illinois Bar Association Judicial Bar Poll rating for Haida:

  • Haida: Recommended, 93.67 percent of attorneys found he meets the requirements of office

Democrat Richard Brown is running for retention in the 20th Judicial Circuit.

Brown earned his undergraduate and law degrees from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He was appointed as an associate judge in 2004. He was named as a circuit court judge in 2010. Before becoming a judge, Brown served as Randolph County’s public defender. He also was in private practice for 25 years.

Brown, a lifelong resident of Chester, and his wife, Barb, have three sons.

Illinois Bar Association Judicial Bar Poll rating for Brown:

  • Brown: Recommended 93.08 percent of attorneys found he meets the requirements of office

3rd Judicial Circuit (Madison and Bond counties)

A. Andreas “Andy” Matoesian is running for retention.

Matoesian attended the University of Illinois and Southern Illinois University for his undergraduate degree. He received his law decree from Washington University in St. Louis. He is assigned to the civil division. In his 51 years on the bench, Matoesian has served nearly every division of the court, including criminal and family.

Matoesian was born and raised in Granite City. He is married to Julie Matoesian and the couple has two children.

Asked why voters should return him to the bench, Matoesian said, “I think I have done a good job for the people.”

Illinois Bar Association Judicial Bar Poll rating for Matoesian:

  • Matoesian: Recommended, 67.05 percent of attorneys found he meets the requirements of office

William Mudge is running for retention.

Mudge graduated from Saint Louis University of School of Law in 1985. He was in private practice in Edwardsville for 16 years before becoming Madison County state’s attorney in 2002. He was elected circuit judge in 2010 and is currently assigned to the civil division.

Mudge is the past chair of the U.S. Senate Judicial Nominating Commission for the Southern District of Illinois. He also served on the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority. Mudge continues to serve as the chairman of the board of the Madison County Child Advocacy Center.

“I have made good on my promise to be independent and fair and respect everyone who comes into my courtroom,” Mudge said.

Mudge is married to Jennifer, the first assistant prosecutor with the Madison County state’s attorney’s office. He has two children. He lives in Edwardsville with his wife and two step-children.

Mudge said he wants to take the fear out of the courtroom.

“I wanted to be the kind of judge I liked to practice before. I didn’t want to be intimidating. I wanted to respect everyone who came before me. And I hope I have,” Mudge said.

Illinois Bar Association Judicial Bar Poll rating for Mudge:

  • Mudge: Recommended, 94.29 percent of attorneys found he meets the requirements of office.
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