Burkart: Napp should double check facts

The Madison County Record Oct. 2, 2012, 9:44am

To the Editor:

Several of Kyle Napp's statements in the lead article that appeared in the October 3, 2012 issue of the Madison County Record are simply not true, and could mislead voters.

No Circuit Court Judge is "exclusively criminal." Article 6, Section 9 of the Illinois Constitution states that "Circuit Courts shall have original jurisdiction of all justicable matters except when the Supreme Court has original and exclusive jurisdiction relating to redistricting of the General Assembly and to the ability of the Governor to serve or resume office."

While it may be true that Judge Romani was the Chief Criminal Judge, that assignment is subject to change. Napp and I are not running for "Chief Criminal Judge." We are running for one of nine Circuit Judges authorized for our Circuit. Article 6, Section 7 of the Illinois Constitution provides that all Circuit Judges in each circuit shall vote for Chief Judge, and that h/she serves at their pleasure, which means h/she is subject to recall at any time.

That same section gives the Chief Judge general administrative authority over the Circuit, including the authority to provide for general and specialized divisions (currently Chief Judge Callis has appointed a Chief Criminal Judge, Chief Civil Judge, and Chief Asbestos Judge). If I am elected, whoever is elected Chief Judge can, and typically does, reassign judges. Napp's representation that the position is "exclusively criminal" is a deliberate misrepresentation intended to excuse her lack of any experience in civil litigation.

Stating that "he gave up nothing when he made that pledge" (concerning campaign contributions) is a deliberate lie. My pledge is two part, not one dimensional as Napp represents.

I have refused donations from both lawyers and tort reformers. An examination of Board of Election data shows that past conservative candidates have received considerable donations from special interest groups that support tort reform, such as JUSTPAC, Chamber of Commerce, and ICJL. The point of my pledge is to eliminate any improper influence and restore the public's trust in our courts. Ms. Napp's law license alone proves she possesses sufficient mental ability to grasp this.

Voters need to know that she has chosen to accept donations from only one side of the lawyers versus tort reformers debate. The feedback I am receiving on the street is that everyone knows that is just plain wrong.

Napp's claim that she "absolutely follow[s] the code of ethics" is also contradicted by her own statements concerning my pledge. Supreme Court Rule 67 states that a judicial candidate shall not "knowingly misrepresent the ... present position or other fact concerning the candidate or an opponent." She knows from prior articles in your paper and my personal invitation to her to join my pledge that it includes both lawyers and tort reformers.

Finally, despite the arrogance of claiming some omnipotent power, Kyle Napp does not know what I know about my reputation in the legal community. According to Martindale-Hubble, my "Peer Review Rating" is 4.4 out of 5, which earns me a "Distinguished" rating overall, and a "Yes" rating to the question "meets very high criteria of general ethical standards."

I do not mind a healthy and honest debate, but a sitting judge should make sure she double checks her facts.

Thomas Burkart
Republican Candidate for Circuit Judge
Third Judicial Circuit

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