The Illinois court system will get a new leader next week. Tom Kilbride concludes his 3-year term as chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court today, and on Monday Justice Rita Garman will take over. He is probably best known for his efforts to allow cameras and microphones in trial courts, and it's now allowed in 35 counties and 13 judicial circuits. But he's 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 succesful in getting a modest bump up and not a decrease, not a cut."
That modest increase was 16 million dollars 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."
As associate justice, he'll 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.
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