Trial lawyer PAC seeks to oust Karmeier appointees in election

Ann Knef Oct. 24, 2008, 12:00am

Former Illinois Trial Lawyers Association President Judy Cates.

A newly formed group supporting two Democratic judicial candidates in southern Illinois seeks to unseat Republican judges appointed by Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier.

Southern Illinois Citizens for Equal Justice -- with backing from former Illinois Trial Lawyers Association President Judy Cates -- was formed earlier this month to support Steve Stone (D) who is running against Randy Moore (R) in the First Judicial Circuit.

Moore was appointed to fill a vacancy created by Judge Bruce Stewart who won election to the Fifth District Appellate Court.

The new political action committee also supports Jim Hanson (D) who is running against David Overstreet (R) in the Second Judicial Circuit. Overstreet was appointed to fill the vacancy left by Judge James Wexstten when he was tapped to fill an opening on the Fifth District Appellate Court.

Wexstten, a Democrat from Mt. Vernon, defeated Cates in a primary race for the appellate court in February.

Southern Illinois Citizens for Justice was formed on Oct. 1 by personal injury attorney Mark Prince of Carbondale, chairman, and personal injury attorney James Williams of Belleville, treasurer.

Cates, a personal injury attorney from Swansea, has sought campaign contributions for the new PAC by stating in an email obtained by the Record, "I realize this is a judicial race that may not affect most of you," Cates stated. "However, there will come a time in southern Illinois when the Supreme Court position will once again be an issue. We need strong Democrats in the judiciary in every county when that time comes."

By contrast, a political action committe for the Illinois Civil Justice League, JUSTPAC, has been involved in these races, helping Overstreet and Moore with fairly big campaign contributions.

JUSTPAC has given Overstreet more than $30,000 since July 1, about a quarter of the candidate's total contributions in the period leading up to the Nov. 4 election. Jack Overstreet, David Overstreet's brother, has donated more than $60,000.

Overstreet and Hanson's battleground includes 12 counties and the cities of Mt. Vernon and Benton.

Hanson has raised more than $40,000 since July 1. He's lent his campaign $20,000.

In the race between Stone and Moore, which encompasses nine counties and the cities of Marion, Carbondale, Murphysboro and Harrisburg, many donations have come from outside the Second Circuit.

According to a campaign financial disclosure statement reflecting donations since July 1, Moore has received a total of $23,196. JUSTPAC has given Moore approximately $6,000.

Stone, who has raised approximately #40,000 since July 1, has received several big donations from Metro-East plaintiffs' firms.

SimmonsCooper of East Alton has given Stone $2,500; Williams Caponi Foley & Eckert of Belleville has given him $1,800; Cates' firm has given Stone $1,300.

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Organizations in this Story

Illinois Supreme Court
200 E Capitol Ave
Springfield, IL 62701

Illinois Trial Lawyers Association
401 W Edwards St
Springfield, IL 62704

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