IL Chief Justice Settles Libel Case
Posted Oct 12, 2007 8:35 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court has settled his libel suit against a Chicago suburban newspaper for a reported $3 million.
The agreement settles ongoing litigation after a $7 million libel verdict for Justice Robert Thomas against the Kane County Chronicle, the Chicago Tribune reports. The Chronicle also agreed to apologize for the article.
Last November a trial judge had found the jury award for Thomas shocked the conscience and reduced the amount to $4 million. The newspaper had appealed the verdict and also filed suit in federal court against 11 state judges, highlighting the difficulties of suing in a court system headed by the plaintiff. All appeals will be dropped, the Kane County Chronicle reports.
Thomas had sued over a column written by Bill Page that had suggested politics influenced his handling of a case against a prosecutor. Page told the Tribune he disagreed with the settlement, which he pegged at $3 million. The newspaper did not disclose the amount of the deal.
Judges have won eight out of the 11 lawsuits they have filed against the media since 1986, according to the Media Law Resource Center in New York. A chart shows Thomas’ final award was the largest.
Judges filed 6 percent of libel lawsuits in 2005, up from 1 percent in 1998, ABAJournal.com noted in a prior post.