News & Updates

Latest Judicial News

Ruocco Wins Nomination For Circuit Court Vacancy, by the Madison County Record, 

March 20, 2018, 10:25pm


Attorney Katherine Ruocco of Swansea has won the Republican nomination for a circuit wide vacancy at the Twentieth Judicial Circuit over Marissa attorney Marshall Hilmes by a margin of 61 to 39 percent.


Vote totals in St. Clair, Monroe, Randolph, Perry and Washington counties indicate that Ruocco received 10,652 votes to Hilmes' 6,970, a difference of 3,682.


Ruocco expressed "heartfelt thanks" to her supporters.  


"Together, we ran a community-based campaign resting on an honest message of our circuit court's need for reform and independence," she said in a statement. "We couldn't have won without community effort, and I'm so grateful and humbled by the support of so many."


She thanked Hilmes for his "strong showing of commitment to working for a more fair and independent judiciary."


"There is still much more work to be done," Ruocco said. "This victory gets us one step closer to our ultimate goal of making our Courts more fair and just. I am looking forward to meeting and working with the community as we continue our effort."


Hilmes made a statement on Facebook:  "Although we did not win this time around, I’ll be asking for your support again in the future. You have all been a blessing to myself and my family. We have met so many great people, have learned a lot and appreciate everyone’s support. You’ve all done so much and I am in awe and humbled by your response to this evening's results."


Ruocco and Hilmes were vying for the vacancy of Circuit Judge Jan Fiss, who is retiring at the end of his term in December.


Democrat Heinz Rudolf, an associate judge in St. Clair County, was unopposed in his party's primary. 

He received 21,643 votes.


Ruocco and Rudolf will face off in the November general election.


Breakdown of votes by county:


St. Clair: Ruocco (R) 7,121,  Hilmes (R) 3,879, Rudolf (D) 17,463


Monroe: Ruocco (R) 1,363, Hilmes (R) 958, Rudolf (D) 1,102


Perry: Ruocco (R) 614, Hilmes (R) 495, Rudolf (D) 1,159


Randolph: Ruocco (R) 725, Hilmes (R) 713, Rudolph (D) 1,511


Washington: Ruocco (R) 829, Hilmes (R) 925, Rudolph (D) 408


Ruocco (R) Total: 10,652

Hilmes (R) Total: 6,970

Rudolph (D) Total:21,643



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Ruocco: Bully on the bench, by the Madison County Record, 

Jan. 21, 2018, 8:32a.m.

(Note regarding the following Letter to the Editor article:  When individual judges bully and act improperly, it decreases public confidence in our court, and casts a shadow of impropriety on all of our judges. (even when the other judges may not have acted improperly).  Such unreasonable judicial behavior creates a chilling effect that discourages the legitimate exercise of one’s legal right to speak. We don’t need bullies on the bench.  )


To the Editor:


A recap for those keeping score – on Jan. 12, Judge Kolker’s blog accused the Ruocco campaign of social media “copying.” He sent press releases repeating the dramatic allegations to local media. When approached for comment on Jan. 17, Ruocco gave a statement to the Madison-St. Clair Record. The Record summarized Kolker’s allegations and Ruocco’s statement in a Jan. 17 column.


The Kolker campaign targeted Ruocco again Jan. 19 in a new letter to the editor. The Ruocco campaign’s response to this latest piece is below. After reviewing my Jan. 17 statement, the Kolker campaign responded yesterday that “facts are stubborn things” – and I wholeheartedly agree. Here are the pertinent “facts” about Judge Kolker’s woefully unfounded allegations and the subsequent turmoil he orchestrated:


Fact #1 – Judge Kolker falsely stated in writing that I was a “thief.” He went so far as to use this slur in a headline reading “Judge Kolker to Katherine Ruocco: ‘Stop, Thief!”


Kolker knowingly made this statement in a public forum where he knew countless third parties were present (Facebook). The false statement is still posted on his Facebook page at the time of this writing.


Fact #2 – Judge Kolker then paid a third party (Facebook) to repeatedly deliver this known false statement to countless other third parties in a “sponsored” Facebook ad for several days. Kolker’s paid advertisement bore the same provocative headline of “Judge Kolker to Katherine Ruocco: ‘Stop, Thief!”


Fact #3 – The alleged “theft” involved my staff posting a public link to a slideshow hosted on a third-party platform (www.SlideShare.net) by a third-party user (Katie Davis). The slideshow bore no indication of Judge Kolker’s name or campaign name. The slideshow was never altered, moved, or duplicated – it was merely linked on our Facebook page, which always credited its origin and bore author Katie Davis’ name. We removed the link promptly and amicably after learning (through Kolker’s angry blog) that Davis was his wife and had created the slides for his campaign.


The other ludicrous “theft” allegations involved: our website using a common three-word phrase (“raising the bar”) within an article’s eight-word subtitle, our Facebook offering a link to healthcare.gov on the first day of open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act, and our campaign “cop[ying] various posts” that are suspiciously unidentified (read: nonexistent).


Even a cursory comparison of our respective Facebook pages reveals that Kolker’s allegations are baseless and unfounded. It is clear that no “theft” has occurred. Nonetheless, Kolker funded a week-long advertising campaign that continually published his false statement to countless community members (bearing the same incendiary headline where he labels me a criminal in his capacity as a judge).


This false allegation of theft appears to be defamatory per se. If any private citizen defamed a sitting judge this way, that person would likely find himself at the wrong end of a prompt civil lawsuit.


Finally, the Kolker campaign’s most recent opinion letter (from Jan. 19) renews Kolker’s erroneous assertion that I “ran last election cycle” with Judge Ronald Duebbert (who has felony charges pending). This is untrue. Kolker’s only support for this baseless suggestion is a single photograph taken after dozens of candidates finished walking in a local parade and I was momentarily standing with my staffers (all wearing white “Ruocco” shirts) beside Judge Duebbert (wearing his black “Duebbert” shirt).


Drawing such a farfetched conclusion of affiliation is foolish and misleading at best, and deceptive and opportunistic at worst. Beyond inappropriately using Duebbert’s pending case to further his own political agenda online, Judge Kolker’s remarks should also be very concerning to private citizens.


Impartiality is a hallmark of the judicial system. Innocence until proven guilty. Kolker implies that due to his pending charges, Duebbert is not aligned with “raising the bar” – i.e. Duebbert has deficient character. Suggesting that anyone with pending charges must have deficient character (without first being tried and found guilty) is concerning.


The Kolker campaign states that while “these matters are all trivial in the grand scheme of things,” they nonetheless “speak to character and judgment.” I disagree that Judge Kolker acting in such an impulsive, reckless, and bullying manner is trivial. But I wholeheartedly agree that this behavior calls into question character and judgment.


Regardless of how Judge Kolker tries to explain away his false accusations and inappropriate use of a pending case, the fact is that he acted improperly. Despite Judge Kolker’s attacks and apparent efforts to silence me, I will continue working to restore public confidence and preserve the integrity of our judiciary. If Judge Kolker has similarly productive goals, perhaps he should stop bullying, name-calling, and making false accusations against private citizens.


Judge Kolker’s unreasonable behavior creates a chilling effect that discourages the legitimate exercise of one’s legal right to speak. We don’t need bullies on the bench.


Katherine Ruocco, candidate for circuit judge