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Top Judge in Illinois Stepping Down

Rich Egger

The Illinois court system will get a new leader next week.

Tom Kilbride is concluding his three-year term as chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court.  Justice Rita Garman will take over on Monday. 

Kilbride is probably best known for his efforts to allow cameras and microphones in trial courts. They’re now allowed in 35 counties and 13 judicial circuits.

Reporter Jim Grimes interviewed Kilbride about that topic for Illinois Issues magazine. You can read the story on the Illinois Issues website.

But Kilbride said he is also proud of some other accomplishments, such as educating legislators about the needs of the court system.

“After more or less beating my head against the wall for the first two years, the third year we were successful in getting a modest bump up and not a decrease, not a cut,” said Kilbride.

That modest increase was $16 million for probation services after many years of reductions.

Last year, Kilbride also organized the Illinois Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission to help the growing number of Illinois residents who don't speak English.

Upon his return to being an associate justice, Kilbride will focus most of his attention on cases and opinions. 

Kilbride was first elected to the Illinois Supreme Court in 2000, and survived a well-funded attempt in 2010 to block his retention.