Cruse and Gleeson pleased with voter confidence as they easily win retention in 20th Judicial

By John Breslin | Nov 7, 2018

Three judges were retained by voters in the 20th Judicial Circuit, including one who faced a campaign to oust her following a decision to lower bail for an alleged child murderer.

Judge Zine Cruse received more 60 percent of the vote needed to be retained on the bench.

Cruse received approximately 65 percent of the vote total, with some 76,000 voting 'yes' for retention and just over 40,000 voting 'no'

Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson, who also faced some organized opposition to his retention, and Judge Daniel Emge both were retained by more than 70 percent of the electorate.

Gleeson received 81,845 'yes' votes and 32,168 'nos.' Emge was retained with 80,909 votes, with 31,751 voting against.

In a statement following the announcement of the unofficial results, Gleeson said, "I’m honored they had the confidence to cast a ballot for retention. I pledge to continue to work hard and be fair and make our system work for all."

Cruse said she was pleased with the result, and that the people of the circuit showed confidence in her.

"What I want more than anything is for the circuit to feel confident in my work," Cruse told the Record. "I am a servant of the people, (and) just really pleased with their confidence in me."

Cruse faced a campaign aimed at removing her from the bench. It was organized by, among others, the grandmother of two-year-old Kane Friess-Wiley, who died in April 2017 after suffering head injuries.

Gyasi Campbell, the boyfriend of Kane’s mother, Lindsey, was charged with first degree murder.  He was held originally on $1 million.

That was reduced to $150,000 by Cruse, and Campbell was able to post a cash bond of $15,000. He was released pending trial set to begin in January.

Kane's grandmother, Lori Freiss, organized the campaign to oust Cruse, including on social media and with hundreds of signs throughout the five county judicial circuit.

On the campaign, Cruse said, "I did not personally run into any individuals who had those concerns, but people had heard about the group and its anti-retention campaign."

She added there will always be people who do not like, or are not pleased with, decisions made by judges.

But, Cruse said, she did receive a lot of positive feed back from those who know her work as a judge and have been in her court room.

"We gave it a good fight, one hell of a fight, and absolutely raised issues," Lori Friess told the Record. "We are not sure where we go from here but will continue the campaign."

Friess cited a radio interview given by Cruse ahead of the election in which she talked about "her people" and how they needed to get out to vote.

In the interview, Cruse also mentioned racist comments made by a Belleville-based radio talk show host, someone the Justice for Kane campaign disavowed.

Friess is investigating whether Cruse "crossed the line" under the rules of what individuals can say in judicial elections.

Otherwise, Friess added, "We are just going to brush our shoulders and get on with it. We are not going away and are still going to fight."

Up until this point, the campaign was focused on Cruse and against her retention.

Some provisional ballots have yet to be counted but they are not expected to impact the overall results.

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