Tom Kilbride


Tom Kilbride is an independent, common-sense judge proud to represent the people of the 3rd Judicial District. “With gratitude to the citizens of the 3rd Judicial District, I humbly ask for your support in 2020 to allow me to continue the privilege of public service during these extraordinary times,” said Justice Kilbride.

As a justice on the Illinois Supreme Court, he has devoted himself to ensuring average people get a fair shake. Tom believes the courts should work for everybody – not just the powerful and politically connected.

In October 2010, Justice Kilbride was elected Chief Justice of the state’s high court.  During his term as Chief Justice, Kilbride carved out a legacy that was notable in several respects, including boosting public access to the court system, increasing transparency of court proceedings, and accelerating the court’s use of digital technology to improve public access and court administration efficiency.

In appreciation for Kilbride’s advocacy for cameras in the courtroom, the Illinois News Broadcasters Association in 2012 awarded him its “Illinoisan of the Year Award.”  “Tom Kilbride will leave behind a more accessible Illinois court system when his three-year term as Chief Justice of the supreme court draws to a close next week.”  (“Kilbride pushed court reform while serving as Chief Justice,” Eric Timmons, Oct. 20, 2013, Moline Dispatch / Rock Island Argus.)

Tom supported the creation of a supreme court commission on “Access to Justice” to help increase access for all citizens to the court system.  He also supported the “JusticeCorps” initiative that trained volunteers to assist average citizens with civil legal matters when they can’t afford legal representation.  An ardent supporter of more civility and civics education, Tom joined other judges to visit classrooms and service groups to talk about civics and the courts.

Tom Kilbride has a strong record of protecting crime victims.  In 2020, he authored the majority opinion on a case that upheld barring child sex offenders from visiting public parks in Illinois.  He supported common-sense standards to ensure innocent people aren’t executed and guilty verdicts aren’t senselessly overturned.  When an accused sexual predator attempted to force a physical examination of a 3-year-old victim, Tom stood up for the victim and said “no.”  He authored an opinion preventing a sexual predator from silencing his seven-year-old victim, and he helped protect women and children by strengthening the ability of abused women to secure restraining orders against their attackers.  The Illinois State Crime Commission honored Tom with its prestigious Award of Excellence in the Judiciary.

Awards &

Since 2000, Tom Kilbride has received more than 60 awards and honors that reflect his commitment to justice and community.  Before joining the court, he was both a volunteer attorney and a volunteer for a multitude of community groups and neighborhood associations.

Kilbride, whose wife Mary teaches mathematics at Augustana College, is the proud father of three adult daughters.  A graduate of Bishop McNamara High School in Kankakee and St. Mary’s College, Kilbride earned his Juris Doctor in 1981 from Antioch School of Law, now known as David A. Clarke School of Law, University of the District of Columbia. He also earned an honorary doctorate from Lewis University in Will County.

In 2010, Kilbride received a strong 65% YES vote for retention – a decisive plurality that reflects his broad-based support from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.