Liefer talks judicial circuit changes

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In August, Gov. JB Pritzker signed Senate Bill 2406, which contains an amendment that will bring changes to Monroe County’s judicial circuit come Dec. 5, 2022. 

As the Republic-Times previously reported, the amendment will make St. Clair County its own circuit and loop Monroe, Perry, Randolph and Washington – all currently in the 20th circuit with St. Clair County – into a new 24th circuit. 

Regardless of the potential political motives behind the split, this change will impact Monroe County, although it is still not exactly clear how.

Monroe County State’s Attorney Lucas Liefer spoke on the potential impacts during a Waterloo Chamber of Commerce lunch meeting on Aug. 19. 

“What that means at this point is not really that clear, we just know it’s happening and that it’s going to have an effect on our probation office, we know it’s going to have an effect on our judges and how many judges we have (and) it’s going to have an effect on my office and how fast I can move cases along depending on how many judges we get in the new circuit,” Liefer explained. 

Monroe County is currently the most populous county in the new 24th circuit, as recently released 2020 census data shows. Given this, Liefer predicted Monroe County will bear a larger share of the burden that comes with the new circuit. 

Because Andrew Gleeson, chief judge of the 20th judicial circuit, is seated in St. Clair County, the new 24th circuit will require a new chief judge. The new chief judge could very well be seated in Monroe County due to its population. The same goes for the probation headquarters, which are currently supervised out of St. Clair County. 

“Now obviously when something changes, it usually costs more money, so our county board is going to be discussing some of those issues as well,” Liefer told the Waterloo Chamber of Commerce. “I expect the new probation office headquarters to be at our courthouse Dec. 5, 2022, so that’s going to add a cost. We are going to have more administration; there’s going to need to be a new chief judge in our circuit and a new chief judge administrator. Depending on where the new chief judge is … sitting, (is) who will bear the cost of setting up an office for that person.” 

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