-Kardis Not Long for this Docket?

The Madison County Record Aug. 31, 2004, 9:52am

Kardis: Asbestos Temp?-- Word has it that new asbestos-docket honcho Judge Phillip Kardis may not be in that position for long. A source with knowledge of the situation told The Record not to expect Kardis to remain in charge of the asbestos docket permanently. Could Judge Nicholas Byron be planning a comeback already? It worked for Michael Jordan.

St. Clair Stone Age-- Madison County's court records have been, since earlier this year, available on the Internet. That's thanks to tech-savvy Circuit Court Clerk Matt Melucci and his work with Springfield-based software firm e-MAGNUS, which offers anyone interested an all-you-can-eat subscription for $240 per annum.

Web access means more time with the family for lawyers, who can download information from home in their pajamas. And it means fewer 'do you know' phone calls for the already overloaded and underappreciated folks behind the counter at the clerk's office.

Rumor has it that by Christmas, Madison County legal eagles and scofflaws will be able to pay their fines and fees online with a credit card, just like they do on Amazon.com.

This all begs a question--why isn't St. Clair County following suit? Surely they don't think this Internet thing is a fad?

Sangamon, Kane, Kendall, DeKalb, Will, and Winnebago counties all also offer Web-based access to their court documents.

Tricky Tillery?--$10.1 billion dollar man Stephen Tillery may have found a way to increase his odds of keeping the money that made him famous.

Tillery, busy defending his record $10.1 billion Madison County verdict versus cigarette-maker Philip Morris USA in the Illinois Supreme Court, has added Chicago trial lawyer Joseph A. Power, Jr. to his legal team.

Power represented the Reverend Duane and Janet Willis after their six children died when a bracket fell off a tractor trailer on a Wisconsin highway and hit the family's minivan, setting it aflame. He later would take on then Secretary of State George Ryan and try to tie him to the incident during Ryan's 1998 run for governor.

Relevant today is that Power currently represents Republican Illinois Supreme Court Justice Robert Thomas a libel suit against a suburban Chicago newspaper.

If they had Supreme Court yearbook, Thomas and fellow Republican Rita Garman would be voted 'most likely to vote to overturn' the record verdict, which very incidentially generated $1.78 billion in fees for Tillery and his legal team.

Philip Morris is represented by former Governor Jim Thompson and his Chicago-based firm, Winston & Strawn.

Journalism 101--Try as we reporters may to beat the rap that we are lazy (or biased, or mean-spirited, or intoxicated...but that's another story), sometimes our own brethren make it too easy for media-bashers to perpetuate this unfair stereotype.

Case in point: Norma Mendoza of the Edwardsville Intelligencer and her August 25th piece reporting a courthouse press conference by activists Doug Wojcieszak and Mark Eavenson.

Wojcieszak and Eavenson assailed insurance companies as the source of Metro East's health care woes, which Mendoza dutifully reported. But unlike reporter Brian Brueggemann's account in the Belleville News Democrat or Tisha Howard's in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Mendoza didn't bother to report the other side.

Brueggemann and Howard quoted doctors and insurance company allies who took issue with their critics claims. That's called fair and balanced journalism.

The Intelligencer's only non-Wojcieszak or Eavenson quote came from Glen Carbon resident Lynn Thiel.

Is she a doctor? An insurance executive? A legal expert? No. As Mendoza put it, she was a passer-by "who happened upon the scene."

Thiel agreed with Wojcieszak and Eavenson that "it's the insurance companies' fault." Shocking.

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