By KAREN VELIE
Attorney Ilan Funke-Bilu announced Friday he will run for an open San Luis Obispo County Superior Court Judge seat in 2018. Incumbent judge Barry LaBarbera is not seeking reelection.
Generally, judges are governor appointed following their predecessors retirement or death. As a result, most judges are politically connected or former employees of the district attorney’s office.
“I think someone with my diverse background and experience would make it a better bench,” Funke-Bilu said. “My diverse experience is unprecedented in the county.”
Funke-Bilu, 67, has had an esteemed 40-year career as a criminal defense and environmental litigation attorney.
In 2003, a San Luis Obispo jury awarded $10 million in punitive damages and $2.6 million in compensatory damages to clients of Funke-Bilu who sued the Unocal Corp., for a blob of crude oil, diesel, gasoline and gas oil that leaked under under their property off Tank Farm Road in San Luis Obispo. Funke-Bilu also successfully litigated cases of environmental contamination in Avilia Beach and Santa Maria.
Funke-Bilu, however, is best known for his work as a criminal defense attorney.
In 1986, he won an acquittal in the murder case of Tony Phillips, a client who said he accidentally shot a man in the stomach during an argument. At the time, the district attorney’s office offered Phillips a charge of manslaughter, but Phillips wanted his day in court, Funke-Bilu said.
Following Phillips’ acquittal, all 12 juriers, Phillips and Funke-Bilu went to a local bar to celebrate, Funke-Bilu said.
Six years later in 1992, a jury acquitted Cal Poly volleyball star Kimberly Kaaiai of attempted murder in the shooting of her teammate and former lover. Kaaiai shot her teammate in the back during an altercation.
In an attempt to protect her former lover from the embarrassment of a trial, Kaaiai asked Funke-Bilu to secure a plea deal with prosecutors, Funke-Bilu said. Prosecutors and Funke-Bilu then agreed to a charge of assault with a deadly weapon with a one-year sentence in jail, a plea agreement rejected by the judge. A jury then acquitted Kaaiai.
There are currently seven seats on the local bench up for election in 2018. Four of the seats are governor appointed temporary judgeships that will become permanent if the appointees win the seats in the 2018 election.
2 Comments about “Ilan Funke-Bilu will run for judge”
Mr. Bilu, esq
Is one of the most caring, decent and man of the people for the people and by the people for the rule of Law, his passion love of the Law and the Honesty, Integrity for Justice is one of many of his amazing person he is, he will be most likely the best Judge our county had ever had in the past 3 decades.
I and my friends have seen his skills in action many times seeking Justice of his clients, and keeping the many fake prosecutions at bay, to see in the past 3 years more people who have been falsely accused by the DA’s office got justice by Mr. Bilu as well as other lawyers. Their is no room for Prosecution misconduct and men like Mr. Bilu holds them accountable.
He has our Families vote and he will make the DA’s office more accountability far too many innocent people have been wrongly charged and it is men like Mr. Bilu we need on the bench. GO Bilu, esq
Given we currently have a DA’s office totally lacking in any accountability, only working for the “special” people, the is no way to go but up.
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