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Asbestos lawyers launch high-dollar ad campaign in appellate race

Thursday, Oct 27, 2016

* Brian Brueggemann at the BND

A last-minute, high-dollar campaign has surfaced against two Republicans who are seeking seats on the 5th District Appellate Court, which covers the metro-east and Southern Illinois.

A political action committee called Fair Courts Now formed on Oct. 11 and, as of Wednesday, had raised $930,000. Most of it has come from plaintiff attorneys in the metro-east and St. Louis.

The committee’s expenditures, as of Wednesday, consisted solely of mailings and ad buys in opposition to two candidates running for seats on the 5th District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon: incumbent Justice Randy Moore of Carterville, and Madison County Circuit Judge John Barberis. Both are Republicans.

Moore is challenged by Democrat Jo Beth Weber, who is a circuit judge in Jefferson County. Barberis is running against Brad K. Bleyer, a Democrat and judge serving in the 1st Judicial Circuit, in deep Southern Illinois.

The top donors to Fair Courts Now are the Edwardsville law firm of Gori Julian & Associates ($235,000), the Alton law firm of Simmons Hanley Conroy ($250,000) and the St. Louis law firm of Maune Raichle Hartley French & Mudd ($250,000).

I’ve been telling subscribers about this push for several days. Subscribers also have the new TV ad.

Later in the above story, retiring Sen. Dave Luechtefeld (R-Okawville), who chairs Moore’s campaign committee, says the money from mainly asbestos attorneys is no surprise, but that they haven’t been able to raise any cash to counter them. Moore had just $27K in his campaign bank account at the end of the third quarter.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

11 Comments
  1. - Highland, IL - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 11:29 am:

    “Justice Randy Moore of Carterville”….Justice? Is this what judges call themselves?


  2. - Archiesmom - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 11:44 am:

    Buying elections - or trying to - is getting mighty annoying, and really offends me in judicial races. This is a different sort of forum shopping than we learned about in law school.


  3. - Keyser Soze - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 11:54 am:

    This is what gives some lawyers their(good?)name.


  4. - Honeybear - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 12:16 pm:

    I know lawyers aren’t popular in general but the folks at Gori Julian are really huge civic contributors. Last weekend I walked for Stuart. We met at the Steelworkers hall in granite city. Now I had known that Gori Julian was collecting food for the laid off US Steel workers but when I showed up for duty I was floored by the six tables piled with canned goods. A huge amount of food. So people say asbestos lawyers are sheisters but I’ll take them any day over the Rauner folks who donate to Balls and Galas and silent auctions. Plus if I remember right they put on a great float for the upcoming Halloween parade.

    As to Judges Weber and Bleyer, they are wonderful and down to earth people. I’ve met them and chatted with them both several times. So approachable and genuine. I really hope they both win. Maligning them as if they are asbestos litigation puppets is really a disservice to those amazing judges. Even taken at face value, I’d rather have asbestos puppets than servants of Rauner dark investment money. Just sayin.

    Weber and Bleyer are not puppets but rather wonderful people that I’d personally wish I could have as friends of my family.


  5. - Bigtwich - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 12:37 pm:

    Member of Supreme Courts are generally called Justices. In Illinois that term is also used for members of Appellate Courts. Members of Circuit Courts are “Judges”.

    The term “incumbent” is slightly askew here. The initial election to a position on an Illinois court is partisan. Subsequent election are for retention without an opponent on the ballot. It appears the Justices here were appointed to fill vacancy and this is the initial election. Just a quibble. I have no opinion on qualifications.


  6. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 1:01 pm:

    Honeybear -

    I was active when Karmeier ran the first time, when the anti-Maag push happened, and when McGlynn ran in 2006 and 2012. I can tell you that the Metro East court system is extremely messed up. The race for IL Supreme Court in 2004, the retention efforts for Karmeier in 2012, and all past and present Appellate Court races are proxy wars just like the current House and Senate races. These firms dump tons of cash into Democratic judicial candidates. People like Tom Lakin and John Simmons and the Keefes play for keeps and they are ruthless. Oh - and for the record - Rauner has not and is currently not playing in any of those races. So no offense but your dark money concern is unfounded. I get your concern and why you worry, but Rauner, Griffin and Uihlein have not (I believe) done anything in the 5th Supreme Court district. Karmeier caught lightning in a bottle, and because the GOP conceded the U.S. Senate race to Obama they concentrated all firepower on the Karmeier-Maag race and the Maag anti-retention campaign.

    Team Sleep


  7. - Honeybear - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 1:47 pm:

    The 5th district appellate count covers the st Clair county court. Need I say more? I’d say that appellate court above all others is important. It is to labor. We might be working folk but we’re not ignorant.


  8. - Honeybear - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 1:53 pm:

    Oh and BTW the hit piece by BND is evidence enough that Rauner is interested.


  9. - Team Sleep - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 2:10 pm:

    Interest and actual involvement are two completely different things.


  10. - Honeybear - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 3:12 pm:

    TS - so the near million dollar ad buy was to counter…….nothing? No labor and lawyers have a real interest and prerogative to defend that court. My local and sister local have had the orders to defend for a long time. I’ve said so on this very blog. No the buy was not counter a non existent threat. Loss of that court would be catastrophic. Elections have consequences. God doesn’t labor know that.


  11. - Red eft - Thursday, Oct 27, 16 @ 5:38 pm:

    The ISBA rates Moore, Bleyer and Weber as “Highly Qualified” but rates Barberis as “Not qualified.”


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