Monday, October 25, 2010

Illinois Judges Association weighs in on Kilbride retention

The Illinois Judges Association has issued a statement deploring what it sees as "unfair criticism" of Supreme Court Justice Thomas L. Kilbride by "special interest groups" seeking to prevent Kilbride's retention next Tuesday.

A complete copy of the IJA's press release is reproduced in full on Page Two of this blog.

Despite the various pro- and anti-Kilbride commercials that are airing on Chicago radio and television stations, Kilbride is not on the ballot in Cook County.

Kilbride, who becomes Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court tomorrow, due to the resignation of Chief Justice Thomas R. Fitzgerald, will be on the ballot in the 21 counties that together comprise the Third Appellate District.

Will, Grundy, and Kankakee Counties are the counties closest to Chicago where Justice Kilbride will be on the ballot.

The IJA does not name the "special interests" that are seeking Justice Kilbride's ouster, but the reference is presumably to JUSTPAC, the political action committee of the Illinois Civil Justice League. The ICJL is the sponsor of the page that is frequently linked from this blog. Edward D. Murnane is the President of the ICJL and a member of the board of directors of the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA). According to Michael Smothers' October 23, 2010 article in the Pekin Times, when Kilbride sided with the majority upholding "a previous high court ruling that found a statute limiting plaintiffs’ damages in medical malpractice lawsuits unconstitutional, Murnane vowed to 'raise as much money as we can' to unseat him." The case to which Smothers refers is Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, 237 Ill.2d 217, 930 N.E.2d 895 (2010). Smothers continues, "Kilbride’s campaign had to reply in kind, and a multi-million-dollar battle of political advertisements was engaged."

Because Justice Kilbride is not on the ballot in Cook County, neither the Chicago Bar Association nor any of the "Alliance" bar groups have expressed an opinion regarding Justice Kilbride's exception except the Illinois State Bar Association. The ISBA urges a "yes" vote on Kilbride's retention, stating:
Justice Kilbride was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court in 2000 and is completing his first term. Justice Kilbride is regarded as a knowledgeable, thoughtful, prepared, and hard working judge. He is considered to have the highest integrity and moral character. As a Justice, he has advanced professionalism and diversity, continuing legal education, and pro bono reporting. He also spearheaded a judicial education program that he presents to Illinois schools and civic organizations. Prior to becoming a judge, Justice Kilbride practiced law for over twenty years in the Quad Cities area. The ISBA Committee for Judicial Evaluations recommends “yes” for Justice Kilbride’s retention.
The ISBA Standing Committee on Supreme and Appellate Court Judicial Election Campaign Tone and Conduct has issued this statement about JUSTPAC's efforts to defeat Justice Kilbride:
The Standing Committee finds that the “JUSTPAC” campaign directed at Justice Kilbride is inappropriate and distorts his record. As such, it reflects negatively on the integrity and independence of the judiciary. Specifically, based upon the advertisements reviewed by the Standing Committee, we find that “JUSTPAC” has distorted the record and rulings of Justice Kilbride by characterizing him as allegedly soft on crime and criminals.
The Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times have both endorsed Kilbride's retention bid. Justice Kilbride's campaign website may be accessed by following this link.

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