Eight attorneys apply to fill associate judge vacancy

MOUNT CARROLL – The county’s top prosecutor and top defender, along with six other attorneys, have applied to fill the vacancy created by 15th Judicial Circuit Associate Judge John “Jerry” Kane’s advance to resident circuit judge.

Kane, a Republican, was elected to the Carroll County circuit judge spot in November, defeating Democratic candidate and Lanark attorney Betsy Shaulis.

Kane’s resignation as associate judge was effective Dec. 7. His replacement will be determined by a vote of the eight circuit judges in the 15th Judicial Circuit, after they have interviewed applicants for the position.

They include:

Scott J. Brinkmeier, 52, of Mount Carroll, who has served as the Carroll County state’s attorney since 2000. Voters re-elected him to a sixth term in November. Before becoming Carroll County’s top prosecutor, Brinkmeier worked for 7 years as an assistant state’s attorney in Whiteside County.

During his two decades as state’s attorney, Brinkmeier has contributed to the formation of the Carroll County Juvenile Justice Council, to obtaining funding for a part-time Victim’s Assistant position and establishing a Carroll County Victim Impact Panel.

David J. Brown, 62, of Loran, who was appointed Carroll County public defender in Jan. 2019. He has worked as a sole practitioner since 1987, managing a practice in Rockford since 1990 and a second office in Mount Carroll since May 2019.

Brown previously served as a public defender in Ogle and Winnebago counties, as an assistant state’s attorney in Ogle County and an attorney for the city of Rochelle. He has sat on the Federal Defender Panel for 25 years.

Anthony V. Coon, 46, of Freeport, a sole practitioner who focuses on the general practice of law. He applied to, but was not selected for, a Stephenson County associate judge position in 2016. Coon also ran in 2016 for Stephenson County state’s attorney, but lost in the Republican primary to Carl Larson.

Coon also sits on the Stephenson County Mental Health Board.

Ronald J. Hennings, 61, of St. Charles, a private practice attorney who specializes in health care issues, insurance law, real estate law, personal injury and workers’ compensation.

Hennings opened his own firm in 2008. Before then, he was a partner at two other firms and was an associate attorney with two other firms.

Aaron C. Kaney, 36, of Mount Carroll, who has served as an assistant state’s attorney since 2011. Kaney graduated from the Regent University School of Law in 2010.

He is a board member at Tyler’s Justice Center for Children and chairs the Carroll County Republican Central Committee.

Anthony W. Peska, 37, of Freeport, a private practice attorney who focuses on criminal defense and personal injury law. Peska joined the Rockford-based firm Mahoney & Mahoney, LLC, in 2017. Before then, he worked 8 years in the Stephenson County Public Defender’s Office as a deputy and an assistant public defender.

Peska serves on the board of directors of the Family YMCA of Northwest Illinois, and also has been secretary of the Stephenson County Bar Association.

Michelle B. Buckwalter-Schurman, 50, of Morrison, a private practice attorney who specializes in family law and estate planning. She has been a managing partner at Nelson, Kilgus, Richey & Buckwalter-Schurman since 2007. Before then, she practiced with two other firms for 12 years.

Buckwalter-Schurman in 2012 challenged, but lost to, Brinkmeier in the state’s attorney’s race in the Republican primary. She has been first vice president of the National Federation of Republican Women since 2018.

Bryon N. Sloan, 55, of Freeport, who was appointed Stephenson County public defender in 2014. He applied to, but was not selected for, an Ogle County associate judge position in 2012.

Before serving as public defender, Sloan practiced with Vella, Sparkman, Wheeler Lund, P.C., of Rockford.

Associate judges oversee family, divorce, adoption and felony cases.

Anyone with knowledge of a candidate is invited to comment on his or her candidacy at toms@15thjudicialcircuit.com or to the Hon. Robert T. Hanson, chief judge, 106 Fifth St., Suite 306A, Oregon IL 61061. Comments must be received by Jan. 21; anonymous comments will not be considered.

Members of the bar also will be polled.

The 15th Circuit covers Carroll, Jo Daviess, Lee, Ogle and Stephenson counties.

Timothy Eggert

Tim covers criminal justice and public safety from Lee and Whiteside counties. Before joining Sauk Valley Media in August 2020, he reported on legal affairs and state government from Springfield. He's worked at newspapers on both of Michigan's peninsulas, and has a master's degree in public affairs reporting and a bachelor's degree in English.