Democratic candidates for Williamson County Circuit Judge - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Democratic candidates for Williamson County Circuit Judge

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WILLIAMSON CO. -- You can't drive through Williamson County without seeing campaign signs for the candidates running for Resident Circuit Judge. Phillip Palmer Jr. and David Lawler are competing for the Democratic nomination. News Three sat down with both of them to find out why they believe they're best for the job. 

For months, David Lawler and Phillip Palmer Jr. have placed signs in yards, knocked on doors and put together TV ads; both hoping to fill the open judicial seat. After 24 years at the bench in Williamson county, Phillip Palmer Sr, is retiring and his son wants to take the place. 

Phillip Palmer Jr. believes he would bring unique experience to the bench because he's seen that position from a different perspective. 

"I've grown up in the household of a judge and I've seen the struggles that come with that position. I've seen what's required of that position and so I think its just an added benefit," said Palmer. 

Palmer has been an attorney at Brandon and Schmidt in Carbondale for two and a half years and says in that time, he's practiced many areas of the law. While his time has been fairly short, he believes that will work in his favor. 

"I think the county is excited about younger candidates getting out there, people who aren't ingrained in the legal community, who don't have the connections and have the ability to be a little bit more impartial," said Palmer. 

He says thousands of cases move through Williamson County and the next judge needs to be able to move through them efficiently, while looking at each one with care and understanding. If elected, he says he'll do just that. 

David Lawler is also vying for the seat. He's an attorney at Lawler Brown Law Firm. He says his experience with leadership, along with nearly eight years of experience as both a prosecutor and defense attorney give him the right skills needed for the seat. His first job was under former Williamson County States Attorney Chuck Garnati, helping prosecute more than a thousand cases. 

"I think one of the things I'd bring to the table is a balanced perspective and a demeanor that would allow me to communicate with attorneys and people who appear in court in a fair and effective way," said Lawler. 

He says everyone in the county is affected by who takes the seat, regardless if you end up in the courtroom. 

"As a judge, you're responsible for deciding which programs come into a county. CASA, Child Advocacy Center, some very important decisions about what programs will exist. So you're serving by making important policy decisions about what laws being implemented, how they are applied, and what programs are going to exist in a given county," said Lawler. 

Voters will have their say on March 20th in the primary election. Whomever wins the Democratic primary will face Marion City Attorney, Steve Green, in the November general election.

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