John J. O’Gara Announces Candidacy For 20th Judicial Circuit Judge
Associate Judge John J. O’Gara declared his candidacy to fill an at-large circuit vacancy which will be created by Judge Vincent J. Lopinot’s retirement in late November 2018.
O’Gara traveled to each of the five counties in the 20th Judicial Circuit to make his announcement to run for the Circuit Judge position which will be decided by voters in the November 6, 2018 election.
O’Gara, 56, a native of Caseyville and a resident of Belleville, has been married for 25 years to Anna O’Gara, a native of Chester. He and his wife have two adult daughters.
Judge O’Gara was the first member of the O’Gara family to graduate from college in 1983, earning a B.A. with Honors from Quincy University. He received his Juris Doctor degree from St. Louis University School of Law in 1987.
He tried numerous cases in each of the five counties of the 20th Judicial Circuit in his 29 years as a trial lawyer. O’Gara tried close to 100 jury trials throughout the entire State of Illinois and in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois. He was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court and he argued appeals before the Illinois Supreme Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.
O’Gara is a past president of the Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the St. Clair County Bar Association. He frequently has been featured as a speaker for continuing education of lawyers regarding trial and substantive legal issues, as well as addressing the Illinois Homicide Investigators Association.
Judge O’Gara received the Chief Judge Richard A. Hudlin, IV Award from the St. Clair County Bar Association in 2015.
O’Gara was named as a Distinguished Alumnus of Althoff Catholic High School in 2016. He received the Faith in the Marketplace Award from the Messenger-the newspaper of the Diocese of Belleville- in 2016.
O’Gara currently serves on the Board of Directors of Catholic Urban Programs, the Board of Directors of the St. Clair County Bar Foundation and the Criminal Justice Council and the Bench and Bar Council of the Illinois State Bar Association.
O’Gara was appointed as an Associate Judge in April, 2016. Reflecting on his role, he noted “it has been an honor to serve the public in a very busy courtroom. My goal is to always give the parties and the lawyers a forum to try their cases, and to respectfully rule in a fair and just manner. I hope to be elected as a Circuit Judge and continue my efforts to bring justice for all.”