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GENEVA, Ill. — A jury on Tuesday ordered a suburban Chicago newspaper to pay $7 million to the chief justice of the state Supreme Court for a series of articles that he alleged damaged his reputation and career. The jury ruled against the Kane County Chronicle and former columnist Bill Page in the libel suit filed by Chief Justice Robert Thomas, a former Chicago Bears kicker. “Lies and liars are not protected under the First Amendment,” said Joseph Power, an attorney for Thomas. Thomas filed the lawsuit after Page wrote in 2003 that Thomas had softened his position in a disciplinary hearing for a former state’s attorney after supporters of the state’s attorney backed a judicial candidate he favored. Thomas, who was elevated to chief justice last year, testified that Page’s columns “went completely over the line” and accused him of a crime. Page has said he relied on confidential sources for the articles. The defense argued that a large award against the newspaper would curtail First Amendment freedoms.

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