Bureau County Republican

Home again: Bureau County native Tom Briddick takes over as state’s attorney

Briddick graduated from Hall High School, IVCC and NIU

When Geno Caffarini became a judge, Bureau County officials didn’t have to look far for a new state’s attorney as Caffarini’s former right-hand man is a Spring Valley native with 22 years’ experience.

Tom Briddick recently was appointed Bureau County state’s attorney. Briddick is a 1993 graduate of Hall High School who finished his undergraduate studies at IVCC and Northern Illinois University (1997) and earned his law degree from Southern Illinois University in 2000. He was admitted to the bar the same year.

Briddick, son of David and Pamela Briddick, spent roughly three years in two stints at the La Salle County State’s Attorney’s Office, from 2001-03 and again in 2016, between which he was in private practice. He left La Salle County for the prosecutor’s office in Princeton in 2016.

Take us back to when you were in high school. Did you see yourself becoming state’s attorney of Bureau County?

Even in high school, I knew I wanted to go to law school. There are a lot of different options when you become a lawyer and honestly I’m thrilled to be the Bureau County state’s attorney. But if you go back to when I was younger, it’s not something I ever thought was going to happen. It just kind of worked out that way, which is a great thing because I’ve wanted to do it for quite some time.

You’ve worked under a couple of different state’s attorneys. What distinguishes you from your predecessors and what are your objectives?

The first thing we’re going to have to tackle is the changes taking effect Jan. 1 such as the bail reform. All prosecutors are going to have to figure out the process, so that’s going to be different for myself and everyone in the office. I’ve got good people who work here and I’m going to take this approach: I trust them. They know what they’re doing. They know how to prosecute cases. All of them have been doing it a long time. Any time they need help or advice or to bounce something off me, I’m more than happy to but I am looking forward to the fact that I have experienced people here who know what they’re doing.

Let’s shift gears to drug interdiction. What are your positions regarding having an active drug interdiction until and what to do with the asset forfeitures?

I think TRI-DENT and Illinois State Police do a great job catching people with trafficking narcotics and also with forfeitures. When the circumstances are right – not everything that comes through that gets stopped – we have been proceeding with the forfeiture cases. We don’t do it on every single one, but we will continue to do that in Bureau County as we have been doing for the past few years.

There haven’t been too many Bureau County state’s attorneys. It’s not a high turnover job. Do you see yourself retiring here?

I’d like to stay here as long as the voters would have me. There has been a history of long-tenured state’s attorneys. If that’s something the voters saw fit for me, I’d love to stay here as long as they take me.

What was favorite branch of law? What did you most enjoy doing during your myriad experiences?

I enjoyed all of it, but actually my favorite part was prosecuting because it’s so rewarding. I started off prosecuting in La Salle County and I always enjoyed that most. So when this opportunity came along to come back, obviously I jumped at it.

What is it about criminal prosecution that so appeals?

It’s challenging. Working with law enforcement is something I really enjoy. And trial preparation, getting cases ready for trial, that’s probably what I enjoy the most.

What was the one case that most defines your prosecutorial career?

It didn’t actually go to trial, but probably the Eddie Mentgen murder case. It was very well investigated by the city of Spring Valley and we were involved, myself and Geno, were involved from day one. A major part of that case was dealing with tracking his cell phones which was kind of new – there wasn’t a lot of history in Bureau County with that kind of tracking – so that case took a lot of work to prepare for trial. We were maybe a week before trial before that case got resolved. (Mentgen pleaded guilty and is serving 35 years.) That was a really good case all the way around. I was pleased with how it worked out and with all the work that went into it.

Tell me something fun about our new state’s attorney. What should people know?

It wouldn’t be unheard of to see me on the backroads riding my mountain bike. I’ll take off the weekends and multiple people have told me they’ve seen me on the black tops out in the middle of nowhere just to get out and enjoy.

It sounds like it’s been good for you to come home.

Yeah, it was great. I was gone for over 10 years and all my family is here and I was glad I came back, for sure.