From Illinois Public Radio - News Local/State -

Kilbride Ends Term As Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice

Thomas Kilbride

Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas L. Kilbride questions an attorney during oral arguments at the Michael A. Bilandic Building Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, in Chicago. (M. Spencer Green/AP)

The Illinois court system will get a new leader next week. On Friday, Thomas Kilbride wraps up his three-year term as chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court. Then on Monday, Justice Rita Garman of Danville will take over.

Kilbride is probably best known for his efforts to allow cameras and microphones in trial courts, which is now allowed in 35 counties and 13 judicial circuits. But Kilbride said he is also proud of some other accomplishments, starting with educating legislators about the needs of the court system.

"And after 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," he said.

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.

"We actually have a full time language access coordinator now within the judicial arm of the judicial branch to help us, work with circuit courts on a county by county basis to how do we bridge the gaps to, to make communication more workable for everyone in the system," he said.

As associate justice, he will give up his administrative duties to the new chief, and now 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.

Categories: Government, History, Law