After a 47-year legal career, including the last seven as a resident circuit judge in Piatt County, Hugh Finson has announced he will retire after his six-year term ends next year.
“I've decided I am not going to run for retention,” said Finson, noting he has officially given written notice to the Illinois Supreme Court, Sixth Circuit Court Chief Justice Karle Koritz and the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts.
“It's a very rewarding job,” said the Monticello native, “but by the time my term ends I will be 73 years old. It's time to retire.”
Candidates will now be able to file petitions to run for the judicial seat in next spring's primary.
“When I was appointed in 2012, I decided I did not want to hold on forever. I decided when I got appointed in 2014 I would retire in 2020,” added Finson.
While holding the Piatt County judgeship, Finson has officiated over cases in several counties. That because he cannot preside over criminal cases in his home county due to being the uncle of State's Attorney Dana Rhoades.
He still spends two days per week on the bench in Piatt County hearing civil cases, the remainder in Moultrie and Douglas Counties. He also helped out in Champaign County in 2016 during the health-related absence of Judge Harry Clem.
“I do enjoy the challenge. It's kind of like a puzzle. How do I put the parts together and get the solution?” said Finson on what he enjoys most about serving the bench. “Sometimes they are big puzzles, sometimes easy puzzles.”
The Piatt County judge had large shoes to fill when he became the replacement for Judge John P. Shonkwiler, who was a magistrate and judge from 1972 until his death in 2012.
Finson is a lifelong resident of Monticello. After graduating from Monticello High School, he received a history degree from DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana in 1969, then went on to earn his law degree from the University of Illinois College of Law in 1072.
He practiced law in Monticello from 1972 until being named Piatt County judge 40 years later. Finson served as Piatt County Assistant State's Attorney from 1972-75 and as Piatt County State's Attorney from 1975-88. From 1988-96 he was a public defender for the county.
He was named to the Monticello High School Hall of Fame in 2016.
Finson plans to remain in Monticello, possible traveling some with his wife Gloria after retiring.