William G. Clay IV, who is a prosecutor and the son of Belleville’s police chief, has been elected to an associate judgeship in the 20th Judicial Circuit, which covers St. Clair County.
Clay received the majority of votes cast by the circuit judges in the circuit. Circuit judges are elected by voters, while associate judges are elected by the circuit judges.
“It’s a blessing,” Clay said Friday afternoon. “All the people who have supported me are appreciated.”
Clay received his undergraduate degree in 2004 from the University of Illinois in Champaign and his law degree in 2007 from Saint Louis University.
Clay, who is 34, said being an associate judge wasn’t on his radar when he left law school, but was excited at the prospect of earning a spot on the bench when the opportunity came up.
“It happened fast. I just prayed. If it was meant to be, it would be. And if not, I have a great job,” Clay said. He said his time working with judges as part of his current job means he’s well equipped to step into his new role.
Clay has worked in the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s office since he concluded his studies at SLU.
He said he was excited to get started but said he won’t be hearing cases until he shepherds his last few cases through the courts as a prosecutor. He could be on the bench for the first time on Aug. 21 and said he’d try not to look too nervous on his first day donning black robes.
Clay is a son of Belleville Police Chief William Clay. The younger Clay’s wife, Kahalah Clay, is the St. Clair County Circuit Clerk.
Clay replaces former Associate Judge Laninya Cason, who in June was voted out of her judgeship by the circuit judges.
After they’re elected, associate judges are up for retention every four years. In retention voting earlier this year, only eight associate judges in Illinois were not retained, while 376 were retained. The eight included Cason and five associate judges from the 3rd Judicial Circuit, which covers Madison and Bond counties.