Lannerd goes from ‘behind the plate’ to ‘the replay booth’ in appointment to appellate court

Lannerd with judges

Justice Amy Lannerd accepts the applause of the judges in attendance at Monday's investiture ceremony in the Adams County Courthouse on Monday afternoon. At Lannerd's right is her husband, Matt Schmidt. | David Adam

QUINCY — Amy Lannerd, an avid sports fan, used a baseball terminology to explain the move from her position as a judge in the Eighth Circuit Court to becoming a justice in the Fourth District Appellate Court.

“Trial court judges call balls and strikes,” she said. “As an appellate court justice, we’re instant replay.”

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lisa Holder White presided over Monday’s ceremony in front of a standing-room-only crowd — including 19 current and former judges — in Courtroom 2A in the Adams County Courthouse to swear in Lannerd as a Justice of the Fourth District Appellate Court.

The Fourth District Appellate Court is in Springfield. It hears cases appealed from trial courts in 41 counties (Adams, Boone, Brown, Calhoun, Carroll, Cass, Ford, Fulton, Greene, Hancock, Henderson, Henry, Jersey, Jo Daviess, Knox, Lee, Livingston, Logan, Macoupin, Marshall, Mason, McDonough, McLean, Menard, Mercer, Morgan, Ogle, Peoria, Pike, Putnam, Rock Island, Sangamon, Schuyler, Scott, Stark, Stephenson, Tazewell, Warren, Whiteside, Winnebago and Woodford).

Lannerd is filling the vacancy created by the decision of John W. Turner of Lincoln to not seek retention. The assignment is effective Dec. 5, 2022, through Dec. 2, 2024. She would have been up for retention in 2024. Her position is not expected to be filled in Adams County until then.

Lannerd said she will maintain an office in Quincy and travel to Springfield “a few times a month.”

Holder White said Lannerd will notice a big change moving from the circuit court to the appellate court.

“There is less interaction with others outside of our chambers,” she said during the ceremony. “We see our colleagues on the appellate court when we take the bench for oral arguments and in conference thereafter to discuss the cases. As an aside, I’ll take a second to let Justice Lannerd know that those conferences can be quite spirited affairs.”

White said an appellate justice has the luxury of spending the time necessary to explore legal issues, rather than making decisions in the heat of the moment. 

“We also have the option of writing several drafts of an opinion and seeking input from our fellow justices and our law clerks,” she said. “Appellate work allows time for careful deliberation and fine-tuning of our legal analysis. There is less pressure to move the docket along. But as redistricting has shown us through the enlargement of the Fourth District from 30 counties to 41 counties, there will be no shortage of cases. Her new colleagues are eager for Justice Lannerd to get to work.”

Pittsfield judge Frank McCartney, chief judge for the Eighth Judicial Circuit, holds a notepad he said he bought to make a list of things he didn’t like about Amy Lannerd during Monday’s investiture in the Adams County Courthouse. | David Adam

Pittsfield judge Frank McCartney, chief judge for the Eighth Judicial Circuit, opened his remarks by saying he bought a notepad to make a list of things he didn’t like about Lannerd.

“I sat there, and I sat there, but I couldn’t come up with a single thing,” he said with a smile.

He then listed the traits that make a good judge — judicial temperament, the ability to communicate, being ethical both personally and professionally, courage to do what the law requires, integrity, work ethic, common sense and real-life experience.

“Every one of these traits, Amy possesses them times 10,” McCartney said.

Lannerd was appointed to the bench in the Eighth Judicial Circuit in 2016. She won election in 2018. Before joining the bench, she engaged in private practice as a partner at Lewis, Longlett & Lannerd, LLC, in Quincy, with her father, John Longlett, and George Lewis.

Longlett offered a few helpful hints to his daughter’s new colleagues. 

“There are certain sports teams you don’t speak ill of,” he said. “Cereal isn’t just for breakfast, and I assure you a certain diet soda is a staple of life.”

Longlett said Lewis, who died in 2019, was looking down on Lannerd with pride, enthusiasm and encouragement.

“During my career, I’ve had the privilege to practice before a lot of great judges in the Eighth Judicial Circuit,” he said. “I think you are one of those great judges, and I know you’re going to make a great appellate justice.”

Justice Amy Lannerd hugs her father, John Longlett, after he spoke during her investiture ceremony in the Adams County Courthouse Monday afternoon. | David Adam

Lannerd is believed to be the first judge from Adams County appointed as an appellate judge to the Fourth District since Bob Cook.

Other members of the Fourth District Appellate Court are:

  • George Bridges of Waukegan; 
  • Peter Cavanagh of Springfield; 
  • Craig DeArmond of Vermillion County;
  • Eugene Doherty of Rockford; 
  • Thomas Harris of Lincoln; 
  • James Knecht of Normal; 
  • Robert Steigmann of Urbana; 
  • Kathryn Zenoff of Chicago.

Lannerd, who grew up in Liberty, called the appointment a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“The role of a judge is one of service,” she said. “It is a great responsibility to make difficult decisions, whether it is traffic, small claims or a felony case. I do not take for granted the importance of the matter before me. I promise that as an appellate court judge, I will perform my duties fairly, impartially and diligently.”

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