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Judge Lawrence to retire; Judge McFarland to run for the seat

Judge Paul Lawrence and Judge Amy McFarland.
Judge Paul Lawrence and Judge Amy McFarland.

McLean County Circuit Judge Paul Lawrence, who became an associate judge nearly 20 years ago and a full circuit judge in 2012, said Monday he will retire at the end of the year.

“It has been a privilege and honor to serve the citizens of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit for the past 20 years. I will miss my colleagues, the lawyers that have appeared in front of me and everyone I worked with at the Law and Justice Center. Helen and I are looking forward to the next chapter of our lives,” said Lawrence.

Lawrence is married to Twin City attorney Helen Ogar with whom he practiced law before being appointed to the bench.

Chief Circuit Judge Mark Fellheimer said Lawrence is a homegrown judge born and raised in Bloomington.

“He and his family are pillars of the local legal, civic and religious communities and graciously give of their time to others and we thank them. His calm and gentle demeanor will be missed as much as his broad legal knowledge and experience,” said Fellheimer.

Lawrence's retirement opens a position voters will fill in the 2022 election cycle.

Associate Judge Amy McFarland said she will announce plans Tuesday to run for the post as a Republican.

McFarland is the presiding judge over family court and became an associate judge in 2016. She has served on the "Court operations during COVID" statewide task force, sits on as national committee assigned to create bold policy proposals for family law reform, and is a past chair of the Project Oz board. McFarland also is co-chair of the Guardian Ad Litem Education Committee of the Illinois Judicial College and has taught courses in family law.

McFarland was appointed to the bench in 2016 and has practiced law since 2000. She lives in Bloomington.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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