If you’re gonna sue somebody, you have to expect to be deposed, and you’re supposed to answer the questions. Chief Justice Thomas sees things differently, however.
Illinois’ highest-ranking judge refused to answer 15 questions at a deposition he gave last month — including what medications he takes and whether it is fair to criticize public figures like President Bush.
Chief Justice Robert Thomas faced the grilling in his defamation suit against a suburban newspaper, the Kane County Chronicle. On Thursday, under orders from a Cook County judge, Thomas answered most of them, though some of his answers were immediately placed under seal.
During the April interview — given under oath — Thomas invoked his position as chief justice as a reason not to answer. But legal experts said deposition witnesses are supposed to talk.
“It’s highly inappropriate,” said Ronald Allen, a professor at the Northwestern University School of Law. “Unless there’s some privilege, then he should answer. End of story.”
Thomas — a former kicker for the Chicago Bears — sued the Chronicle in 2004, alleging columnist Bill Page wrote false stories about his role in the case of Meg Gorecki, the former Kane County state’s attorney whose law license was suspended for four months. According to Page, Thomas agreed to a lower penalty for Gorecki if her supporters backed a judicial candidate he favored.
Thomas says he suffers “stress” and a damaged reputation because of the stories.
“I have been terrifically stressed out as a result of that,” Thomas said in the deposition. “You kind of feel like your blood pressure’s going up.”
His reputation is so “damaged” that he was elevated to Chief Justice. Must be a difficult life.
UPDATE: Chief Thomas had a different outlook when speaking to the graduating class at St. Ambrose University this month:
â€œGod is a God of restoration, and he is calling all of us to restoration. If there are broken friendships or hurt feelings, go to that person before this day is out,â€ he urged.
I highly doubt that Thomas talked to Bill Page after that speech. Maybe he should heed his own advice.