In response to the recent Fair Courts Now attack ad campaign, Justice James “Randy” Moore said he hopes to protect confidence and impartiality with the bench.
“Why I am running is so that we have a fair system with judges that are not subject to partiality or influence; that are independent, so people can have confidence in the system; that everybody is treated equally,” said Moore.
The group Fair Courts Now was established on Oct. 11 to oppose the Republican candidates for Fifth District Appellate Court in attack ads. They have so far raised $1,060,000 and spent $750,000 on the print and TV ads against Moore and Madison County Circuit Judge John Barberis.
The group benefits Democratic candidates Jefferson County Circuit Judge Jo Beth Weber and Williamson County Circuit Judge Brad Bleyer.
Most of the money raised by Fair Courts Now came from local asbestos firms. In fact, $735,000 was funded by the Simmons, Maune Raichle and Gori Julian asbestos plaintiffs firms.
When asked what the plaintiffs firms have to gain by pouring $1 million into a group opposing the Republican candidates, he said the firms expect to have cases before the court.
“If they didn’t think they had a lot to gain, they wouldn’t spend that kind of money,” he said.
Moore’s campaign chair Dave Luechtefeld, R-Okawville, said in a Facebook post on the campaign’s page, “I think the answer is pretty clear. They would like an edge in that court, and they expect to have cases there. It’s like an investment.”
Luechtefeld is also the Illinois State Senator for the 58th District.
The Oct. 27 post went on to say, “Good judges shouldn’t be political. Politics have no place in the courtroom. Unfortunately, a judge is required to run under a political party. But no matter what political party a judge must identify with, fairness and impartiality should be their top priority. Protecting the constitutional liberties and freedoms of all people, great and small, should be their goal. Money, influence, and greed should have no place or sway in the courtroom.
“A few rich and powerful who want to control the courts are spending almost a million dollars for the sole purpose of misleading voters through negative attack ads.”
“This is not just an election for Appellate Court judges, this is a battle for our freedom, our liberty, and the integrity of our courts,” Moore’s Facebook post concluded.
The response to the post was unanimously positive and supportive of Moore as people opposed the part plaintiffs firms are playing in the election.
The ads focus on Moore’s and Barberis’ Illinois State Bar Association ratings and recommendations.
Moore said that while he was rated as “not recommended,” he was also rated as “highly qualified.” Further, he said he has never faced any criticism as a judge.
“My record is clear. I have been even-handed and fair,” Moore said. “I notice that there hasn’t been any criticism of anything I’ve ever done as a judge. No one has criticized any decisions. My record as a judge is fair and I have demonstrated integrity.”
He said only a few dozen lawyers are able to make such a result possible and he suspects that many of the lawyers who didn’t recommend him in the poll “have never been in front of me.”
Moore added that his ratings before the election were approximately 25 points higher.
Moore pointed out that in the 2008 primary election for Fifth District Appellate Court between Justice Judy Cates and Justice James Wexstten, Cates originally wasn’t recommended, but received a qualified rating by the ISBA Judicial Evaluations Committee. Wexstten was both rated as recommended and qualified.
Then in 2012, she ran with the endorsement of the Democratic party "and her ratings dramatically improved."
“I don’t think her ability changed, just her rating,” Moore said.