A new chief judge has been chosen for the 14th Judicial Circuit, which includes Rock Island, Henry, Mercer, and Whiteside counties.
Walter Braud, the former chief judge, resigned from the position on Monday. His son broke his ankle on Oct. 5, and Braud will have to be out of state to help during his son's recovery. He is still a judge in the circuit, but he said he plans to retire around the end of 2019.
Frank Fuhr was chosen to replace Braud during a Friday afternoon meeting of the circuit's 12 elected judges — called circuit judges. Fuhr is one of the 12 and has been the acting chief, leading the circuit when the chief judge cannot, according to a news release issued by the circuit.
He will serve the remainder of Braud's term, which expires in December of 2020, according to the news release. A chief judge's term in the 14th Circuit normally is two years.
Braud was elected chief judge in December 2014, then again in 2016 and 2018, the release states.
Fuhr became a judge in 2008 and has served as the 14th's acting chief judge since 2014. He has also served as a prosecutor, a public defender and ran a private practice.
He attended Rockridge High School, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and the University of Wisconsin Law School where he graduated cum laude with honors.
A chief judge is elected by the other circuit judges and holds the circuit’s administrative authority, according to the Illinois courts website.
The selection is made by secret ballot, and the winner must secure a majority of the votes, according to the 14th Circuit’s rules of practice.
A chief judge’s duties include assigning cases to the other judges.
The state constitution also spells out other duties, including ensuring there are appropriate times and places for court to be held.
The other circuit judges are Braud, Mark A. VandeWiele, Clarence M. Darrow, James G. Conway Jr., John L. McGehee, Kathleen Ellen Mesich, Jeffrey W. O'Connor, Terence M. Patton, Patricia A. Senneff, Stanley B. Steines and Linnea E. Thompson, the Illinois courts website states.
Circuit judges are elected for six-year terms and may hear any cases assigned them by the chief judge, according to the website.
The other type of judge in a circuit, the associate judge, is appointed by the circuit judges with the guidance of the Illinois Supreme Court. Associate judges may not try felony cases without the supreme court’s approval. They serve for four-year terms.
The 14th Circuit is one of 23 in the state.