Cates and Barberis
Fifth District Appellate Court Judge Judy Cates has announced she will seek election to the Illinois Supreme Court next year for the seat being vacated by retiring Justice Lloyd Karmeier.
Cates, 67, of Swansea, will seek the Democratic nomination in the March 17 primary election. The general election is Nov. 3, 2020.
She made the announcement Nov. 7 on her Facebook page.
"My family and friends have asked me to enter this race, and I am honored by the outpouring of support," Cates wrote. "During the next eleven months, I intend to travel throughout Southern Illinois, as I did during 2011 and 2012. My opponent has already lined up only Republican interests. In my campaign, I intend to speak to all of the voters, not just Democrats or Republicans. The courts are for everyone, and should not be partisan. Politics has no place in our courtrooms."
Her opponent referenced in the message is colleague at the Fifth District, Republican David Overstreet, 53, who declared his candidacy on Nov. 5. Overstreet was elected to a 10-year term to the appellate court last November. Prior to his election, Overstreet had been serving at the Fifth District by assignment from the Illinois Supreme Court on Karmeier's recommendation. Prior to that assignment in 2017, Overstreet served as a circuit judge in the Second Judicial Circuit in Jefferson County.
Cates was elected to a 10-year term at the Fifth District in 2012 over opponent Stephen McGlynn, a Republican, winning by a four-point margin. McGlynn is now a circuit judge in St. Clair County. Cates lost a primary race in 2008 in a contest to fill the vacancy of justice Terrance Hopkins to James Wexstten by a six-point margin.
Another candidacy for the Illinois Supreme Court announced on Facebook over the weekend was that of Justice John Barberis, 51, a Republican, who was elected to a 10-year term at the Fifth District in 2016.
He will be challenging Overstreet, whom he describes as his "friend and colleague" and "the pick of the retiring Supreme Court Justice and other Republican politicians" in the March primary.
"After considerable thought and consideration of all the factors it is my belief that, despite not having support from the traditional Republican sources, I am most capable of winning the general election," he wrote on his Facebook post. "Some reasons for my belief include the fact that I have run in two races against seemingly unsurmountable odds against two well respected, very liked, well financed opponents and beat both by a large margin. I am the only candidate to have faced million dollar plus opposition. I have a track record of making the very most out of every dollar contributed to my campaign."
In 2014, Barberis won a circuit seat in Madison County over Associate Judge Clarence Harrison on a $5,000 budget, compared to funding of approaximatley $100,000 for Harrison.
In the 2016 race for the appellate court, Barberis and fellow Republican James Moore overcame negative campaigning funded by the asbestos bar, which poured in more than $1 million into the race.
Cates press release
“I was elected by the people, and I will appeal to them again, to send me to the State’s highest court," Cates stated in a release. "During this campaign, I intend to talk about making the judiciary more transparent, without any hint of corruption. People need to trust the civil justice system, which protects this nation from government over-reach. I intend to engage in frank discussions about the Judicial Inquiry Board, its function, and the need to make it more responsive. There will be no more covering up for judges who, in the past, have relied on their brethren to protect them from scrutiny.
“My work on the Appellate Court has allowed me to protect the rights of working people, protect others from being taken advantage of, and bring justice to those who never thought they would have a chance in our civil justice system. I have tried my best to make sure that every case is decided fairly, without the influence of politics. And, my legal background and experience on the Appellate Court make me uniquely qualified for this position on the Supreme Court."
Prior to her election in 2012, Cates concentrated on personal injury litigation throughout southern Illinois. She was elected by lawyers throughout Illinois as president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. To date, Cates is the only woman who has served in that role. In 2012, she was honored as one of the top 100 women lawyers in Illinois, and one of the top 500 lawyers in America.
Cates has served on two different school boards in her career. When her children were in grade school, she led a successful referendum to build a new elementary school.
Cates attended Cornell University, where she received a bachelor of arts in Government. She earned her juris doctor from the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. She started her career as a prosecutor in the St. Clair County State's Attorney's office prior to entering private practice.
She resides in Swansea with her husband. She has three children and two grandchildren.