Oops, Scoops and the Clerk's Troops

The Madison County Record Sep. 8, 2004, 6:42am

Watchdog, Watch Thyself
Last week we introduced ourselves to the local media by ridiculing the reportage of the Edwardsville Intelligencer. But in our dash to bash our cross-town counterpart's lack of enterprise, we committed an even greater editorial sin: we misspelled the name of Belleville News-Democrat reporter Brian Brueggeman.

Consider this a correction and an apology (sorry, Brian--Ed.)--but not a retraction.

Another non-retraction
Given developments in the asbestos docket last week (story, Page 1), our lengthy profile of new asbestos boss Philip Kardis, on the first page of our first issue, no less, leaves us humbled.

But not too humbled: We also reported, in last week's Dicta, the rumor that Kardis wouldn't be on the asbestos docket for long.

So even when we're sort of wrong, we're kind of right.

Rumor Central
Nobody answers more dumb questions than the patient, hard-working folks behind the counter in Room 120 at the Madison County Courthouse. For Clerk Matt Melucci's troops, fielding idiotic inquiries is part of the daily routine.

But Wednesday was a tough one even by clerk's office standards, as the beleaguered crew took call after call from panicky paralegals chasing down a rumor that Thursday's asbestos status call had been continued.

"I swear we've had 900 phone calls about this today," said an exasperated staffer to nobody in particular on Wednesday.

Chances are the rumor sprung up as word got around that Judge Kardis wouldn't be handling the asbestos docket on Thursday.

This is why Madison County needs a legal newspaper.

Rumor Central, Part II
If 'Asbestos Day' here in Edwardsville taught our beat reporters anything, it's that mentioning the stuff is the surest way to kill a friendly conversation.

Ask an asbestos defense attorney how their day went and they'll softly whisper 'no comment,' scanning the halls suspiciously for anyone looking like an associate of Opus Dei or the Trilateral Commission.

So we were interested to hear rumblings that the big city St. Louis Post-Dispatch is planning a 'major series' on asbestos and Madison County that will reportedly run sometime in the next month or so.

Apparently they talked to someone brave enough to go 'on the record,' a nut our reporters haven't yet cracked. We'll be first in line at the newsstand to grab a copy.

Get em' with Google

An article in October's edition of the Atlantic Monthly magazine notes that search engines are attracting big business from lawyers trolling the Internet for potential clients.

These lawyers are furiously buying 'keywords' related to their favorite personal injury or class action issues. For instance, buy the word 'mesothelioma' and a web surfer who types it into Google will see a prominent link to your firm's Web site.

If the surfer bites and clicks through, it costs the 'mesothelioma' keyword buyer $100, according to writer Nathan Littlefield.

"The most sought-after (Web) consumer (is) one who is either rich or grievously injured, not especially bright, and principally concerned with sex, litigation, and profit," Littlefield wrote.

An unscientific (i.e., cursory) Madison County Record investigation found firms from Massachusetts, Texas, and California that had bought keywords on Google and Yahoo! but none from the River Bend.

Med Mal Mo'

A Republican candidate for an Illinois House seat that covers part of Peoria has called for a special legislative session on the subject of medical malpractice reform.

Aaron Schock, who is challenging incumbent Democrat Rep. Ricca Slone (D-Peoria Heights) says Democrat Governor Rod Blagojevich needs to call legislators back to Springfield right now to deal with the problem.

Blago's spokesperson didn't shoot down the idea, instead telling the Peoria Journal-Star that the governor "will be making an announcement" in the near future on the subject.

Schock supports a measure drafted by House Republicans that would cap non-economic damages in malpractice awards at $500,000.

Dicta is the Madison County Record's weekly notebook and gossip sheet. If you have an item you'd like us to include, email it to dicta@madisonrecord.com

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Belleville News-Democrat
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Belleville, IL 62220-2130

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