Ann Maher Aug. 8, 2014, 7:25am

Earlier this week The Record newspaper observed its 10-year anniversary, and to our loyal readers we humbly thank you for your support.

We sincerely appreciate that support and we look forward to improving our coverage of the courts in the next decade.

Since publishing our first print newspaper on Sept. 7, 2004, we've gone to press on approximately 500 editions and published close to 20,000 stories.

Our mission since the first edition has been to shine a light on the important legal issues inside our local courts.

And while our appearance has changed somewhat along the way and our online presence has strengthened, our commitment to factual and incisive reporting about our courts and our public officials is undiminished and even stronger.

What happens in our courts is your business — not just the business of lawyers, judges and litigants. The asbestos claims from across the country choking our docket, the class action suits that seem to enrich certain lawyers much more so than plaintiffs, and the product liability lawsuits brought against just about every pharmaceutical company in the country have landed in the courts of Madison and St. Clair counties for a reason. Judges have allowed them, a situation that is not the norm for the vast majority of court jurisdictions of equal size in other parts of the country.

That’s why the Record stepped in a decade ago – to examine the courts, its judges and lawyers and the reasons why these courthouses have become a magnet for high dollar, high stakes litigation.

We've been praised and made others angry. Attempts were made to keep the paper from reaching the news stands and several times news stands were vandalized. Even a few smelly fish and rotten tomatoes have found their way inside our dispensers.

This paper is owned by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform. Its hard-earned credibility is the result of the objective work of our reporters, researchers and support staff.

It's been a privilege being the editor for the last 10 years, and it would not have been possible without our team.

Founding Publisher Brian Timpone is fierce, fair and committed to telling the truth about what goes on in the courthouse. His vision and desire for transparent courts helped create the Madison-St. Clair Record as well as news operations in West Virginia, Southeast Texas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Cook County.

Reporter Steve Korris: Satch has been the most resourceful reporter employed by the Record. He has covered a lot of territory in courts here and elsewhere. Without his contributions, the Record would not have been able to provide our readers with some of its most significant investigative stories of the past decade. He remains a valuable partner in our mission to provide meaningful coverage of the courts.

Court Reporter Steve Gonzalez: The affable Gonzo with an innate gift of gab got things started for the Record inside the Madison County Courthouse in the summer of 2004. He had a unique ability to get folks to open up about the real goings on in the courts. He fostered relationships with judges, lawyers and politicos. He earned their trust and kept their confidences while gaining information that led to transformative reporting. Gonzo was with the Record until 2008, and remained a good friend until his untimely death last year. We miss him.

Columnist John Hopkins: A gifted writer and personal injury attorney, John has taken more than his share of grief from the trial bar for writing his "Sidebar” column in a newspaper that often rails against the antics and activities of the plaintiffs’ bar. His presence has enhanced our standing in legal circles. John’s writing style can be as light as “Top 10 lawyer movies of all time,” and as controversial as “Barack Milhouse Obama.” He writes clearly and eloquently, qualities that are greatly appreciated. We’ll always have a platform for him here.

Reporters Bethany Krajelis, Heather Isringhausen Gvillo, Kelly Holleran, Andrea Dearden, Amelia Flood and Christina Stueve Hodges have made substantial and lasting contributions in local coverage. Former marketer Joyce Cannon also did a great job increasing the paper's visibility in the community.

Attorney Steve Pflaum is the smart lawyer watching our back. Pflaum, a partner at Neal Gerber & Eisenberg in Chicago and president of the Illinois Appellate Lawyers Association, has been our steadfast counsel over the past decade. His expertise as a media attorney has steered us away from trouble and through trouble, most notably defeating a false light suit brought by the late former power broker Amiel Cueto. On top of his impressive resume, Steve is one of the nicest people I have met in my professional life.

Docket Lady Carrie Gonzalez, and wife of the late Steve Gonzalez, has been with the Record from the start. Week in and out, Carrie provides our docket coverage and never has missed a deadline. Since the beginning of the year, she has been gathering real estate and foreclosure filings in the Madison and St. Clair County courts. She's a hard worker who provides a great example of perseverance.

Behind the scenes:

Office Manager Stacey Strojny is our smart, go-to person for anything and everything not related to the paper's editorial content. She's fast and efficient and never misses a beat. Stacey keeps the paperwork flowing, makes us accountable and informed - always with the a pleasant disposition.

Newspaper Designer Angie Ogden: We publish 50 issues per year – and Angie has had her hands on 499 of our 500 issues. Once, long ago, she took a vacation and supplied us with a replacement layout designer. After that, we begged her never to leave our side again, and she hasn’t. Angie is a masterful page designer with endless patience. She has worked through illness, power outages, Internet outages, cross country moves, early deadlines, late deadlines and a few tear-up-the-page-and-start-over-because-a-story-had-to-be-pulled, as well as tear-up-the-page-and-start-over-because-we-have-a-last-minute-breaking-story.

Once again, thank you readers. We’ll do our best to keep your respect in the decade to come.

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