Justice Judy Cates announced she is running for the Supreme Court following an opening created by the retirement of Justice Loyd Karmeier.
“My family and friends have encouraged me to enter this race, and I have been honored by the outpouring of support I have received from so many people throughout southern Illinois,” Cates said, in making her announcement. “During the next 11 months, I will travel throughout the southern 37 counties in the Fifth District, as I did during 2011 and 2012. At least one of my opponents has already lined up strictly partisan interests. In my campaign, I intend to speak to all of the voters, not just Democrats or Republicans. The courts are for everyone. Politics has no place in our courtrooms.”
Cates, or “Judge Judy,” as she likes to call herself, was elected to the Appellate Court in 2012. She has served on the Appellate Court for the past seven years.
“I was elected by the people, and I will appeal to them again to send me to the state’s highest court. During this campaign, I intend to talk about making the judiciary more transparent, without any hint of corruption. People need to trust the civil justice system, which protects this nation from government over-reach. I intend to engage in frank discussions about the Judicial Inquiry Board, its function, and the need to make it more responsive. There will be no more covering up for judges who, in the past, have relied on their brethren to protect them from scrutiny.”
Cates resides in Swansea with her husband. She has three children and two grandchildren.
“Obviously, this race will take a huge toll on my family, and will require me to travel thousands of miles back and forth to meet with as many voters as possible. I am grateful for the support of my family, and for their understanding.”
Cates attended Cornell University, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Government. She earned her juris doctor from the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. She started her career as a prosecutor in the St. Clair County State’s Attorney’s office prior to entering private practice.
“My work on the Appellate Court has allowed me to protect the rights of working people, protect others from being taken advantage of, and bring justice to those who never thought they would have a chance in our civil justice system. I have tried my best to make sure that every case is decided fairly, without the influence of politics. And, my legal background and experience on the Appellate Court make me uniquely qualified for this position on the Supreme Court,” said Cates.
Prior to her election in 2012, Cates engaged in the practice of law, concentrating on personal injury litigation throughout Southern Illinois. Cates was elected by lawyers throughout Illinois as President of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. To date, Cates is the only woman who has served in that role. In 2012, she was honored as one of the top 100 women lawyers in Illinois, and one of the top 500 lawyers in America.
Cates has served on two different school boards in her role as a mother. When her children were in grade school, she led a successful referendum to build a new elementary school.
Cates has also been a benefactor of two student scholarships at Southwestern Illinois College, honoring the dedication of each of her parents to education.
“My mother was a teacher and in her later years enjoyed art and pottery classes at SWIC. She so loved the people at the college. And, my father pushed his girls to be strong, independent and educated women. He used to attend my trials when I was a prosecutor,” Cates said.
SWIC recently announced Cates will be the honored as its “Partner in Education” at its annual “Thanks For Giving” event Nov.
“Our donations to education ensure that young people have a chance to succeed. They need to know that we are there for them when they need a helping hand to avoid the burdens of student debt,” Cates said.
Prior to her election to the Appellate court, Cates taught a class at both the Washington University School of Law and the St. Louis University School of Law.
“I have always been very active throughout my community, as well as southern Illinois, and my involvement will continue,”she said.
Her charitable contributions include the Southwestern Illinois Violence Prevention Center, the Epilepsy Foundation of Greater Southern Illinois, the Belleville Diocesan Council Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the Belleville Area Humane Society, Make-A-Wish foundation, Goodwill and the Salvation Army, among others.
Cates also likes to fish, and enjoy the family farm in Nashville, Illinois.
“I pledge to all of the people of the Fifth Judicial District, that if they send me to represent them on the Supreme Court, I will continue my commitment toward fairness and impartiality. I will continue to be a judge that everyone can trust – a judge committed to the people,” Cates said.