Businesses Use Crime Rulings To Seek Ouster Of IL Judge


In a visceral and well-funded attack on Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride, radio listeners throughout the state can hear actors portraying the state’s nastiest criminals explain how the judge sided with them over their victims, says the Chicago Tribune. “I was convicted of sexual assault on a woman and her 10-year-old daughter,” says the actor playing one felon. “Then I slashed their throats and burned them. [] Unfortunately for felons like us, other justices overruled Kilbride and our convictions stood.”

The radio spot portraying Kilbride as soft on crime is part of a coordinated campaign by business interests trying to make the Democrat the first Supreme Court justice in state history to lose a retention vote for another 10-year term. While the campaign focuses on what Kilbride calls “gross distortions” of his record in criminal cases, the real aim of the Illinois Civil Justice League is to dump a judge they see as unwilling to stop large jury awards given to plaintiffs in malpractice and other negligence lawsuits. Kilbride’s supporters – including the state Democratic Party, unions, and trial lawyers – are pushing back. Nearly $3 million in campaign donations are funding broadcast ads, mail pieces, and phone banks in a fight over a name most Illinoisans won’t even see on the ballot. “It is just terrible, appalling,” said Timothy Slavin, a former Republican prosecutor and judge who is past president of the Illinois Judges Association. “I wasn’t always a supporter of Tom Kilbride, but this portrayal of him as hostile to law enforcement just is not true.”

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