Metro-East News

Stewart retiring; seat up for grabs on appellate court at Mount Vernon


Bruce Stewart, a justice on Illinois’ 5th District Appellate Court, which covers the metro-east, will not seek to retain his seat in the 2016 election.

Stewart announced Tuesday that he will retire at the end of his current term, which expires in December 2016.

His decision means a slot on the seven-seat appellate court, based in Mount Vernon, will be up for grabs in the November 2016 election.

“Serving as an Illinois judge in both the circuit court and the appellate court has been an honor and a privilege,” Stewart said. “At the end of my term I will be 64, and I will have spent the last 40 years working as either an attorney or a judge. I have decided not to seek another 10-year term on the appellate court so I can spend more time with my family.”

The 5th District Appellate Court, which covers Southern Illinois, currently has a 5-2 Democrat majority. Stewart, a Democrat from Carbondale, was elected to the appellate court in 2006, when he defeated Steve McGlynn of Belleville, a Republican. The race drew more than $3 million in campaign money.

Appellate judges are elected to 10-year terms.

In Illinois, a judge whose term ends may choose to run for retention for another 10-year term of office. A retention election is nonpartisan and simply asks the voters whether the judge should be retained for another term. A 60 percent vote in favor of retention is required for a judge to remain in office.

“I wouldn’t want to work until age 74. And on the other hand, I’d feel uncomfortable with voters potentially retaining me for another 10 years, and then not completing that term,” Stewart said.

Stewart said he’s heard of some potential candidates for his seat, but nothing official.

“It’s all just rumor right now,” he said. “As far as I know, no one has officially announced.”

Stewart said he’ll probably do some part-time legal work after leaving the bench, possibly serving as a mediator.

Other justices on the 5th District Appellate Court are:

* Judy Cates

* Melissa A. Chapman

* Richard P. Goldenhersh

* James R. Moore

* S. Gene Schwarm

* Thomas M. Welch