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The law firm of Denby, Meno, Bloomer & Denby is pleased to announce that Nicole K. Thomas has joined the firm as an associate attorney.

Nicole is a graduate of Carlinville High School and obtained her undergraduate degree from SIU Carbondale and law degree from St. Louis University. She is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association and Macoupin County Bar Association, and is available for client appointments in the firm's Carlinville and Staunton offices.

Fourth Circuit Judge Ronald Spears (left) was honored at a retirement party Dec. 18 in Taylorville. Judge Spears retired after 22 years of service in Christian County. ISBA Past President J. Timothy Eaton (right), Judge Spears' law school roommate, spoke in his honor.

When Supreme Court Chief Justice Rita B. Garman asked William McCleery to speak at the 2015 Admission Ceremony for the Fourth Judicial District in Springfield on November 6, he humbly accepted. Among the fifty-two lawyers to be sworn in from the fourth district, was his son, Daniel McCleery. William said “I was honored to address this talented group of young men and women and take great pride knowing Daniel was one of them.”

Chief Justice Rita B. Garman of the Supreme Court of Illinois has begun an application process for an At-Large Circuit Court vacancy in the Eighth Judicial Circuit.

The vacancy is created by the resignation of Judge William O. Mays, Jr., effective January 15, 2016. Judge Mays has been an At-Large Circuit Judge in the Eighth Judicial Circuit since 2006.

Under the Illinois Constitution, judicial vacancies are filled by Supreme Court appointment. The application process will lead to the final Court approval. Applicants will undergo an evaluation and screening process.

Notice of the vacancy has been posted in the courthouses throughout the Circuit. The application form and instructions may be obtained by visiting the Illinois Supreme Court's website at and following the instructions in the "Latest News" scroller announcing the Eighth Judicial Circuit vacancy.

The Illinois Supreme Court has announced that effective January 1, 2016, Quincy attorney James A. Rapp will chair the Supreme Court’s Minimum Continuing Legal Education Board.

The Supreme Court adopted minimum continuing education requirements for Illinois attorneys in September, 2005. The board is composed of nine members including attorneys, judges, and a non-lawyer member. Rapp is a charter member of the governing board and has served as Vice Chair and on the board’s rules and regulations as well as finance committees. There are approximately 106,000 attorneys in Illinois subject to the requirements.

Thomas Smith
Thomas Smith
Thomas R. Smith, 76, of Danville passed away at home on Monday (Nov. 23, 2015).

Thomas was born Aug. 6, 1939, to Kenneth and Naydean (Phillips) Smith. He married Nancy (Underwood) Nixon on June 6, 1975; she survives.

Also surviving are a stepdaughter, Melissa (Matthew) Muirhead of Danville; his children, Kenneth Smith of Milwaukee, Thomas Smith of Zionsville, Ind., Melinda Smith of Zionsville, Michele (Mark) Jones of Monrovia, Ind.; and eight grandchildren, including a very special grandson, Grant Thomas Muirhead.

He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Jack Smith.

As a youth, he was active in Boy Scout of America, earning his Eagle Scout badge and representing his council several times in both national and international gatherings. He was a member of the Danville Jaycees, serving a term as president. He was an avid sports fan, especially Illini sports and the Indianapolis Colts.

Thomas graduated from Danville High School in 1957, DePauw University, Greencastle, Ind. where he was a member of the golf team in 1961, and the University Of Illinois College Of Law in 1964.

He practiced law in Danville for 50 years and was a partner in the law firm of Acton & Snyder. Thomas was also a member of both the Illinois and Indiana State Bar Associations, as well as the Vermilion County Bar Association.

Michael J. Tardy, Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, announced today that the 10th Judicial Circuit judges voted to select Suzanne L. Patton as an associate judge of the 10th Judicial Circuit.

Ms. Patton received her undergraduate degree in 1996 from Illinois State University in Normal and her Juris Doctor in 1999 from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. Ms. Patton is currently affiliated with the Peoria County State's Attorney's Office in Peoria.

Chief Judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit Kenneth Deihl is pleased to announce that Springfield attorney Jennifer M. Ascher has been appointed as Associate Judge and will be assigned to Sangamon County. Ms. Ascher was appointed to fill the vacancy created by the impending retirement of Associate Judge Steven H. Nardulli. Ms. Ascher will take her oath of office and start on January 11, 2016.

Commenting on the selection, Chief Judge Kenneth Deihl states, “Ms. Ascher is a talented and respected family attorney. Her extensive trial practice and professional demeanor makes her well suited for judicial office. We look forward to her service in our justice system.”

Ms. Jennifer Ascher received her undergraduate degree in 1999 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her Juris Doctor in 2003 from Saint Louis University School of Law. She is currently a partner at Sorling Northrup, where she has practiced family law nearly exclusively for the past twelve years. During her tenure, she represented clients in Sangamon County and surrounding counties. She is a Springfield native where she resides with her family.

Ms. Ascher previously served as president of the Central Illinois Women’s Bar Association and the Sangamon County Bar Association.

Illinois and Missouri litigation firm, HeplerBroom, will be joined by the Springfield-based environmental attorneys of Hodge Dwyer & Driver on January 1, 2016, as the firm expands its Springfield office. Together with its 120 attorneys situated in key jurisdictions, HeplerBroom can now add environmental legal representation to the broad services currently provided to a wide variety of clients across many industries in the Midwest.

“We grow in response to client demands for more diverse services. We’ve worked well with the firm in the past. Hodge Dwyer & Driver’s environmental regulatory and litigation skills are a natural fit as we diversify our offerings,” said Larry Hepler of HeplerBroom. “The firm brings extensive regulatory talent to bear for our clients who have operations in Illinois and Missouri or companies who are considering expanding into these states.”

Businesses are faced with the challenge of complying with extensive and complicated national, state and local environmental regulations. With the addition of Hodge Dwyer & Driver, HeplerBroom can now be in close touch with regulators in Springfield and Chicago. If disputes in any part of Illinois cannot be resolved at the agency level and litigation results, Hodge Dwyer & Driver now finds increased depth with the entire HeplerBroom litigation team.

Justice Thomas L. Kilbride and the Illinois Supreme Court have announced the appointment of Galesburg attorney Anthony W. Vaupel as a Circuit Judge in the Ninth Judicial Circuit.

Mr. Vaupel was appointed by the Court to fill the vacancy created by Chief Judge James B. Stewart, who retired on October 1, 2015. His appointment takes effect December 7, 2015, and will terminate on Dec. 5, 2016, when the position is filled by the 2016 General Election.