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updated: 10/19/2012 6:09 PM

Spence appointed to 2nd District Appellate Court

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  • Robert Spence

    Robert Spence


There is another change on the bench in the 16th Judicial Circuit, as Chief Judge Robert Spence has been appointed to serve on the 2nd District Appellate Court effective Nov. 5.

The Illinois Supreme Court late Thursday announced the appointment of Spence, who was almost a year into a two-year term as chief judge.

"It was an honor to be considered for the position," said Spence, 57, of Batavia. "I enjoy being a trial judge. I really enjoyed it. Chief judge, I enjoyed the position. I thought it was challenging. It was an honor being selected by my colleagues to that position. This is another challenge."

Spence's appointment means more shifting around in the 16th Judicial Circuit, which has three longtime judge retiring, including two in December.

Spence said the circuit judges already had a meeting scheduled Nov. 1 to discuss appointing a new associate judge. He said the topic of appointing a new chief judge also could come up, but 15 of the 20 circuit judges that would vote on that appointment are from DeKalb and Kendall counties.

On Dec. 1, those two counties will break off and form a new circuit, the 23rd Judicial Circuit.

"That would be a complicating factor in having a meeting on Nov. 1," Spence said, adding that if no new chief judge is chosen then, Judge F. Keith Brown, who held the position for the three-year term until last December, would be named interim chief judge.

"We've got several people who I think could really step in and hit the ground running who will do a good job," he said. "I'm not concerned with there being a lack of leadership. I think we'll be fine."

During his 10-plus months as chief judge, Spence said he is most proud of helping move felony criminal cases through the system, which helps keep the county jail population down. This helps opens up opportunities for the county to lease jail bed space to other agencies and reduce costs.

Earlier this year, the Illinois Supreme Court decided to allow cameras in courtrooms on a circuit-by-circuit basis. Several circuits have cameras already in place; a committee studying the issue for the 16th Circuit will meet Wednesday in Yorkville and hopefully draw up a plan that Spence will review and send to the Illinois Supreme Court for approval.

"I'd like to have that finished before the time I leave. That's what I'm shooting for," he said.

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Bob Thomas, whose district includes the 2nd Appellate Court, nominated Spence and Thomas's fellow justices had to vote on it.

"He's very highly regarded being selected by his peers as the chief judge of that circuit, which includes three counties. Judge Spence also was considered a very valuable member of the Conference of Chief Judges. He was a very fine contributor to that group, which includes all the chief judges from all the circuits from around the state," Illinois Supreme Court spokesman Joe Tybor said.

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