Editor's note: This article has been corrected to accurately list the name of judicial candidate Amanda Byassee Gott.
Southern Illinois voters will elect seven circuit judges and one appellate court judge in November. Six of those seats are in the First Judicial Circuit.
Judicial candidates are nominated in the primary election in March and elected in the general election in November.
John Jackson of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute said many attorneys aspire to be judges.
“These are highly-coveted seats. People who have been in the legal field think being a judge is the apex of their career,” Jackson said.
The number of seats that are open is unusual. Jackson does not remember another time so many seats needed filled.
“There’s usually a scramble when there’s an open seat. (With) an open seat somebody new is going to win,” Jackson said.
To run for judge in Illinois, a candidate must be a citizen of the United States, an attorney licensed to practice in Illinois and must live in the district or circuit for the seat.
“Usually they have worked up some seniority and worked up some experience, especially if they are trial attorneys,” Jackson said.
The First Judicial Circuit is comprised of Alexander, Jackson, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union and Williamson counties. Two of the open seats are for at-large positions to fill the vacancies of Judge James R. Moore and Judge Mark H. Clarke.
Judge Carey C. Gill of Carterville, a Republican, was appointed to fill Moore’s vacancy in January 2017. Gill practiced as an attorney for 16 years with Barrett, Twomey, Broom, Hughes and Hoke.
The other candidate for Moore’s seat is Jason A. Olson of Marion, a Democrat. He serves as an assistant state’s attorney in Saline County.
Two candidates want to fill Clarke’s vacant seat. Republican Amanda Byassee Gott of Marion has practiced law in Marion for 18 years and has 10 years of experience as family law mediator.
Democrat Tyler Edmonds of Anna is in his third term as Union County State’s Attorney and serves on the boards of States Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor and Southern Illinois Child Death Investigation task force.
Four resident circuit judge seats are up for grabs in the First Judicial Circuit.
Three candidates are running to replace Williamson County Resident Judge Phillip G. Palmer Sr.
Republican Stephen R. Green of Marion is an attorney practicing with Armstrong and Green in general law practice and serves as Marion city attorney
Democrat Phillip G. Palmer Jr. of Marion is an attorney with Brandon and Schmidt law firm in Carbondale, handling medical malpractice, personal injury and insurance law.
Democrat David W. Lawler of Marion served as assistant state’s attorney in Williamson County and founded of Lawler Brown Law Firm in 2012 with his brother Adam and friend Nick Brown.
Two candiates will run for the vacancy created by Williamson County Resident Judge Carolyn Smoot’s retirement.
Republican John W. Sanders of Marion was appointed resident judge upon the retirement of Judge Smoot on Nov. 30, 2016, and was an attorney in Marion before his appointment.
Democrat E. Ryan Hall of Marion practices labor and employment law and served as assistant Williamson County State’s Attorney from 2002 to 2010.
Three candidates are in the race for the seat of Jackson County Resident Judge William G. Schwartz.
Republican Steven M.J. Bost of Murphysboro is an attorney with Miller and Bost, Attorney at Law in Murphysboro, serves on Jackson County Board and is major in U.S. Marine Corps Reserve.
Democrat Brian L. Roberts of Murphysboro is an attorney in Carbondale.
Christy W. Solverson of Carbondale was appointed associate judge in Jackson County in 2005 and is a member of Judicial College Board of Trustees and the board of Southern Illinois Women for Health and Wellness
In the race for the seat Massac County Resident Judge Joseph Jay Jackson, four candidates are running to fill the vacancy.
Republican Cord Zachary Wittig of Metropolis is a partner in law firm of Kruger, Henry and Hunter in Metropolis, Massac County Public Defender and serves with National Guard JAG Corps.
Republican Joseph J. Neely of Metropolis is an attorney in Metropolis.
Republican Rick W. Abell of Metropolis is a lawyer with Kruger, Henry and Hunter in Metropolis and served as assistant Massac County State’s Attorney and city attorney for Metropolis and Brookport.
Democrat Paul F. Henry of Metropolis is a lawyer with Kruger, Henry and Hunter in Metropolis and served as Metropolis city attorney.
Voters in Perry, Randolph, Washington, Monroe and St. Clair counties will fill an at-large vacancy of Judge Vincent J. Lopinot in the 20TH Judicial Circuit.
Republican Paul J. Evans of O’Fallon is an attorney with Evans Law Firm in O’Fallon and served as state representative in the 102 District Illinois House.
Democrat John T. O’Gara was appointed associate judge in March 2016 and was a public defender and noted criminal defense lawyer.
Two candidates will face off to fill the vacancy of Judge Richard P. Goldenhersh in the Fifth Appellate District of Illinois.
Republican David K. Overstreet of Mount Vernon was assigned to the Fifth District Appellate Court in 2017, served as circuit judge and was an attorney with Neubauer and Overstreet in Mount Vernon.
Democrat Kevin T. Hoerner of Belleville is an attorney with Becker, Hoerner, Thompson and Ysursa in Belleville, practicing in Illinois and Missouri, and is an assistant attorney general for the State of Illinois and assistant state’s attorney in St. Clair County.