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Family members and close friends were present as Fayette County’s resident circuit judge for the past 20 years moved up in the state’s judicial process on Monday.
S. Gene Schwarm, who has also served as chief judge of the state’s Fourth Judicial Circuit for the past 13 years, took the oath of office for a seat on the Fifth District Appellate Court.
Schwarm, who lives with his wife, Ann, on the family homestead in Loogootee on which he grew up, invited a “small group (of people) to celebrate what is the biggest day in my professional career.”
He took the oath of office in the large courtroom at the Fayette County Courthouse, being sworn in as an appellate court judge by the Illinois Supreme Court justice who recommended him for the post.
The state Supreme Court approved Judge Lloyd A. Karmeier’s recommendation of Schwarm from a field of 19 applicants. That field was narrowed to five finalists by a committee appointed by Karmeier.
“You’ve served ably, you’ve served well,” Karmeier said to Schwarm prior to the swearing-in ceremony.
Karmeier noted that he was born and reared on a farm, and the fact that Schwarm served as the state president of FFA “was pretty high on the list” of his accomplishments.
He also told the small crowd that prior to Schwarm’s appointment as chief judge of the Fourth Judicial Circuit, that office had a term limit.
That changed after Schwarm was elected, and re-elected, to the position of chairman of the chief judges in Illinois. In what Karmeier referred to as the “Schwarm rule,” circuit judges decided that one of their own could serve as chief judge as long as he or she was chairman of the chief judges.
The fact that Schwarm has continually been re-elected as “chief of the chiefs” since being chosen in 2006 “is probably unprecedented in history.”
Karmeier said that he heard from many people before making his decision, and told Schwarm that he was picked from “a lot of good choices.
“Invariably, they would say, ‘good choice,’ ‘excellent choice,’” Karmeier said.
He told Schwarm that he was selected based on “your resumé, the work you’ve done.”