Illinois Supreme Court Justice Tom Kilbride says recent radio ads opposing his retention distort his record on criminal cases, and he is using cops to fight back.
Kilbride, who is up for retention in the Nov. 2 general election, is a target of the Illinois Civil Justice League that is fighting against his retention. The group has aired radio ads in several of the 3rd District Appellate Court District media markets, but not the Quad-Cities.
He knows it is hard to fight back against a 30-second ad when trying to explain legal procedure and interpretation. Several local current and retired law enforcement spoke up on Kilbride’s behalf at a news conference Friday at the Rock Island County Courthouse.
“This is a case of distorting it and spinning it,” Kilbride, of Rock Island, said. “To explain, it takes some long thoughtful discussion.
“It isn’t fair. That is why we have members of law enforcement say these things.”
Later Friday, Aaron Chambers, spokesman for the Kilbride campaign, said three radio stations in the Chicago area pulled the ad after campaign officials presented information to the stations challenging its accuracy.
Speaking on Kilbride’s behalf Friday morning were retired East Moline Police Chief Reggie Freeman; Rock Island County Sheriff’s Capt. Dick Fisher and Lt. Jeff Boyd, who is running unopposed for Rock Island County sheriff; East Moline Police officers Rich Holman and Shawn Roselieb, who represented the statewide Police Benevolent and Protective Association and Fraternal Order of Police, respectively; and retired Illinois State Police Master Trooper Mark Meiresonne.
“I knew Tom before he became judge, back when he was a legal aid lawyer providing assistance to folks who could use some help and I can tell you he’s a good man with common sense,” Freeman said. “I have nothing but praise for his honesty and fairness.”
“I find Justice Kilbride to be one of the finest jurists I know and a friend of law enforcement,” the retired trooper said. “He has done a great job for the state of Illinois and will continue to do a great job for the state of Illinois.”
Kilbride’s campaign also points to support for his retention from law enforcement by police chiefs and sheriffs in Mercer, Peoria, LaSalle, Knox, Fulton, Putnam, Bureau, Grundy and Will counties as well as endorsements from the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police and the Policemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association of Illinois.
The Illinois Civil Justice League claims Kilbride has sided with criminals in 81 percent of criminal cases, saying on its website, “That’s extreme and out of touch with Illinois voters.”
Representatives of the league could not be reached for comment Friday.
Kilbride’s camp argues the Illinois Civil Justice League uses only a small portion of the rulings he’s been involved in in his 10-year career on the state’s highest court.
Kilbride thinks he has come under attack from the group not because of his decisions on criminal cases but for a civil case before the court earlier this year. Kilbride was in the majority in a decision that struck down a law that placed limits on awards for non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.