Anderson to retire from Kane County bench

Updated 10/4/2012 4:44 PM
  • Judge Allen Anderson, presiding over a mock trial at the Kane County Judicial Center, said he will retire at the end of the year.

    Judge Allen Anderson, presiding over a mock trial at the Kane County Judicial Center, said he will retire at the end of the year. Daily Herald File Photo, 2009

Another longtime judge in Kane County will be stepping down at the end of the year.

Allen Anderson, an associate judge since January 2000, submitted to the Illinois Supreme Court his notice to retire Dec. 31.

"I've enjoyed my entire job," said Anderson, 66, of Elgin. "It just seemed like the right time. It's not an easy decision to make because I really enjoy what I do."

Anderson's impending departure marks the third judge in Kane to retire in recent months. Circuit Judge Timothy Sheldon, an Elgin resident and judge since 1986, will step down in early December, and Associate Judge Robert Jaynes of St. Charles retired Monday after serving since 1996.

Anderson's spot will be filled next year by a vote of circuit judges. Robert Spence, chief judge of the 16th Judicial Circuit, which includes Kane, Kendall and DeKalb counties, could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday, but noted in an email to fellow judges that Anderson was retiring, had a distinguished career and served the circuit well.

Anderson moved to Elgin when he was 7, attended Elgin High School, went to the John Marshall Law School in Chicago and passed the bar exam in 1972.

He served as an assistant public defender in Kane County for eight years and also practiced law in several areas, including real estate, wills, zoning and civil litigation.

Anderson said he wanted to leave while he still enjoyed it.

"Everybody reaches a point where they should have left the party so to speak," he said. "I want to be able to walk out of here and not be carried out. I want to leave feeling good about it."

Anderson started in Aurora branch court before being moved to Elgin. Then it was on to hear drunken driving cases and finally felonies on the third floor of the judicial center in St. Charles.

Anderson is known to be extremely thorough when defendants are pleading guilty to a crime and accepting a jail or prison term; he often repeats several times what rights a defendant is giving up.

"I would rather take the extra time to make sure somebody understands it rather than have them leave and grouse about it for years because they didn't understand," he said, adding he tries to make every one who goes to court feel comfortable because it's something they don't normally do.

Oftentimes, Anderson will have stern words for a defendant when issuing a sentence. "I think a judge speaks, in part, for the community in terms of what we will tolerate and what the consequences will be," he said.

Anderson declined to elaborate on which cases were his most difficult, but noted that, generally, a tough case is one in which a child testifies about sexual abuse and the defendant inevitably denies it. "Those, as a general rule, are very challenging because of the consequences to the defendant if it did or didn't happen," he said.

Anderson said he has no immediate plans, but didn't rule out another job or hobby if he could find something challenging and inspiring. He plans to travel, golf, read and spend time with his grandchildren.

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