Vermilion County Presiding Circuit Judge Thomas M. O’Shaughnessy has been elected as the 5th Judicial Circuit’s Chief Circuit Judge. The election occurred during the Circuit Judge Annual Meeting held December 8, 2020. He succeeds current Chief Judge Mitchell K. Shick of Charleston, who has served as Chief Judge for three years and did not seek another term. O’Shaughnessy will begin a two-year term on January 29, 2021.
The 5th Circuit encompasses five counties: Clark, Coles, Cumberland, Edgar, and Vermilion. Each of Illinois' 24 judicial circuits has a chief judge who, in addition to judicial responsibilities, has general supervisory authority over the administrative functions of the trial courts within the circuit.
Responding to the news of his election, O’Shaughnessy said "I am honored to have the opportunity and privilege to serve as Chief Judge of the 5th Judicial Circuit, and humbled that my colleagues have such trust and confidence in me. I am blessed to work with judges who are innovative, creative, and conscientious, along with a staff dedicated to carrying out the important work of the trial courts. I look forward to working with them in this new capacity as together we serve the people of our judicial circuit. Chief Judge Shick had an exemplary term. He was a strong advocate at the state level for our circuit, and a leading and effective voice for all down-state circuits. He was calm, reasoned, and analytic in addressing the restrictions imposed upon the courts by the COVID-19 pandemic. His leadership permitted our courts to perform essential proceedings in manners consistent with protecting the rights of litigants while mitigating the spread and impact of the virus. We cannot thank him enough for his skillful management, counsel, and guidance.”
O’Shaughnessy is a 1975 graduate of Catlin High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana and his law degree from Southern Illinois University School of Law in Carbondale. He was first elected as a circuit judge during 2014 and retained for another six year term in this November’s general election.
O’Shaughnessy serves upon the Illinois Judges’ Association Board of Directors and its Judicial Selection & Retention and Government Affairs Committees. He is a member of the Illinois State Bar Association, serving on the Child Law and the Bench & Bar Section Councils, and is a member and past president of the Vermilion County Bar Association. He is also a member and past president of the Rotary Club of Danville, and a member of the Catlin Lions Club and the Danville
Chapter of AMBUCS. O’Shaughnessy and his wife, Darla, have three adult children and nine grandchildren.