Madison - St. Clair Record

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

ICJL: Voters expect independence in their judges, as seen in rejection of candidates who benefited from trial lawyer largesse

By Ann Maher | Nov 9, 2016

Candidates who benefited from trial lawyer funding in Fifth District Appellate Court races "forfeited their ability to win," according to Illinois Civil Justice League (ICJL) President John Pastuovic.

"I think it's pretty telling that the voters expect independence in their judges," Pastuovic said in response to the losses of Democratic candidates Williamson County Circuit Judge Brad Bleyer and Jefferson County Circuit Judge Jo Beth Weber.


He said that voters were not happy about the amount of money being spent in those races.

"Voters are very savvy as to what the trial attorneys have been doing down there (37 counties of the district)," he said.

"The electorate has become very knowledgeable in these (last) two elections in particular. They made their voices heard very clearly that they no longer accept business as usual."

Pastuovic pointed to a recent study produced by the ICJL showing the significance of trial lawyer contributions to Illinois judges and politicians over the past 15 years - all totaled, $35.35 million.

Madison and St. Clair county courts, which along with Cook County host the state’s highest concentrations of civil litigation, factor prominently in the ICJL study, "Justice for Sale III."

Pastuovic said that voters are increasingly aware of issues surrounding judicial campaigns. He said that the ICJL's online voter guide "Judges: Good and Bad...You Can't Afford to be Indifferent," had received a lot of viewer traffic leading up to and on the day of the election.

"Yesterday alone, 5,000 people visited the site and educated themselves before they went to the polls," he said.

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