Bono takes the bullets

The Madison County Record Sep. 23, 2004, 1:42pm

Last week's five day series on Madison County's courts in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called its shots and took them. And those shots were as tough as they get, particularly on local asbestos lawyer Randy Bono.

When the Post-Dispatch wrote of lawyers who are related to or just plain 'intimidate' judges; when it described a ' one party court system' financed by gobs of plaintiff's attorney spoils; when it suggested that justice was not being served in Madison County-- it did so beside a picture of Bono, confidently smoking a pipe.

Bono has made tens if not hundreds of millions suing companies for exposing their employees to asbestos. That enough is sufficient bait to attract swarming reporters.

But it is not why the Post-Dispatch chose to make Bono the focus of its epic Madison County expose.

To be sure, the Post-Dispatch focused on Randy Bono because Randy Bono is the only active heavy-hitting trial lawyer in Madison County who will talk to the press. And he is quotable.

Ask Bono a question or confront him with a charge and he passionately and aggressively argues his position. He fearlessly, confidently defends Madison County and sharply attacks its detractors.

Having heard him, we're not surprised Bono's been so successful in the courtroom.

Yet it remains a wonder to us why Madison County's other courtroom superstars aren't as brave. You'd think they would be as sure of themselves as Bono is.

John Simmons and Jeffrey Cooper run perhaps the largest asbestos-specialty law firm in the U.S., SimmonsCooper, out of Wood River. They're young, rich, good-looking, and employ hundreds. Bono technically even works for them.

And Madison County's 'class action capital' image is really the work of but a handful of successful local attorneys, including Tom and Brad Lakin of their Lakin Law Firm and Stephen Tillery of Korein Tillery. Tillery is most famous for the $10.1 billion verdict he garnered in 2003 versus Philip Morris.

These are the guys who give Madison County its mojo today. And in the great debate over how things should be, they have the most at stake.

Which begs the question-- why not join Randy Bono in defending yourselves?

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