Judge Don Weber
Circuit Judge Don Weber said said the future shape of Madison County's often maligned courts is at stake in the Nov. 7 general election.
On Tuesday he came out swinging, saying that his 30-year record of fighting corruption and crime in Madison County makes him the clear choice for circuit judge.
"I work hard everyday to reform the courts in Madison County, and I have been doing exactly that for the last three decades," Weber said.
"It hasn't been easy and it never will be, but making our county's courts the place where everyone can go to get fair, impartial, and uncorruptable justice is worth the struggle."
Weber, a former elected state's attorney and long-time assistant prosecutor is seeking a six-year term as circuit judge after being appointed to the bench by the Illinois Supreme Court last year.
At Weber's news conference in Edwardsville, Weber was surrounded by police officers who endorse his candidacy. He also distributed an endorsement letter signed by former U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald.
Weber said those endorsements were evidence that the people who lead the fight against crime and corruption recognize that his experience has helped him stand up and make a difference as a circuit judge.
"Our courts are badly in need of reform, but reform is difficult and complex and will require unquestioned determination and courage," Weber said.
He added, "I think my record of public service for the last 32 years demonstrates that I have what it takes."
Fitzgerald, A Republican best known for his determination to fight corruption in Illinois, said this of Weber: "He is a man of principle and integrity. The court system in Madison County is known throughout the nation as being in need of serious reform."
"This can only be accomplished by judges like Don Weber who have proven their honesty and courage over their years of service to the community," Fitzgerald added.
Fitzgerald, nominated U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago, who successfully prosecuted former Illinois Governor George Ryan and is currently investigating other corruption cases.
Bill Harris, a Democrat who is the former chief of police for Granite City also endorsed Weber for judge.
"In 1974-75, Granite City has a murder explosion," Harris said. "We had 10 murders in 12 months and Don and his brother, Phil, helped us solve those crimes and successfully prosecuted the murderers."
Harris added, "The type of determination and courage I saw in Don Weber then, and over my 25 years as a policeman, make me sure he is the right man for circuit judge."
Former chief of detectives in Alton, Rick McCain, said Weber has the courage and the integrity needed of a judge.
"Don Weber cares about justice, and he also cares about victims and the impact violent crimes have on their shattered lives," McCain said.
Illinois State Police Detective Terry Klutts and retired state police crime scene Bob Biby joined Weber at the news conference.
Weber said the support he has received from so many in the law enforcement community and others dedicated to court reform proves he is the kind of judge Madison County needs at a time so crucial for the future of the courts.
Weber said his Democratic opponent David Hylla, a personal injury lawyer in Edwardsville, lacks the experience to handle the job in today's courts. He also said Hylla has never done anything to seek reform.
Weber said Hylla's entire career has been spent working as a plaintiff's lawyer. The plaintiff's bar, Weber said, has earned Madison County a national reputation as a "judicial hellhole."
"Hylla has done nothing to demonstrate he has the courage or dedication to deliver the kind of judicial reform the people of Madison County are demanding," Weber said.
"It is easy for a candidate for judge to say he wants reform," Weber added.
"The voters need to know who has fought crime and corruption, and who has not."
"I have for 30 years, where has Dave been?" Weber said.