A 66-year-old ex-federal judge in central Illinois has taken the uncommon late-career turn of becoming a rural judge.

Michael McCuskey of Lacon spent a quarter century on appellate and federal benches, often hearing weighty and complex issues. Monday he was to begin hearing a range of cases, including traffic violations.

The Peoria Journal Star reports McCuskey will preside in Marshall County most of each week, with a day each in Putnam and Stark counties.

McCuskey says he welcomes the more intimate judicial work in smaller counties. And 10th Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Stephen Kouri says it's the first time the district's newest judge "instantly" became its "most experienced."

McCuskey was on the 3rd District Appellate Court in the early 1990s. He later spent 16 years in the U.S. District Court based in Champaign.