Decisions, decisions

The Madison County Record Jan. 16, 2005, 1:57pm


Bush reads about Madison County

Bad Furniture

The Impact

It’s on the QT, but Dicta has learned that newly-elected Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier has put together a panel of GOP lawyers charged with finding a judge to fill the 20th Circuit vacancy he left.

And a decision is near.

Our sources say the panel started evaluating candidates in late December. And their short list includes Republicans and Democrats.

The 20th covers St. Clair, Monroe, Perry, Randolph, and Washington Counties.

Good riddance

When Judge Stack criticized Madison County’s “cash cow” asbestos docket way back in October, we got to thinking about all those filing fees.

Asbestos has proven quite a lucrative “business”—but the county budget powers-that-be aren’t using the proceeds to fund elegance.

Take a walk around Madison County’s courthouse and this becomes clear.

Dicta wonders whether the county bought its desks at the Barney Miller Show’s going-out-of-business sale.

Perhaps that’s why, in our informal, unscientific surveys, the prospect of an asbestos docket-killing victim’s Trust Fund brings more smiles than frowns among county judges, clerks, and random staff. Most have privately told us they’d be glad to see asbestos go.

And why not-- if this is how office life is when the going is good, why have the thousands of filings-a-year hassle?

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Arlen Specter (R-PA) says he hopes to present a trust fund bill for debate in early February. It would ban asbestos lawsuits but guarantee payments to victims, with amounts ranging from $575,000 to $1.075 million

Bloody Mad

“If you have a damages claim to file, take it to southern Illinois. ‘Mad County’ judges are famous for taking on cases other courts refuse, and not holding back when it comes to the penalties.”

So says The Economist magazine, a London-based but internationally read newsweekly, in an article last week summing up the situation on Main Street.

The piece, obviously spurred by President George W. Bush’s Collinsville visit—goes on to surmise that trial lawyers “through the local Democratic Party…keep a firm grip on the system.”

You know you’ve made on the global stage when The Economist decides you worthy of ink. But we’re wondering where these Brits came up with the “Mad” nickname.

We'll keep an eye on the trend.

Circling the wagons

It's not the message, but the messenger.

That's the word from high-level legal circles as the Illinois Supreme Court's Rules Committee considers a proposal that would change the way judges handle class action lawsuits.

Among other things, it would require judges to consider whether litigation is the "superior" method of resolving the controversy before allowing a class action case.

Many plaintiff's attorneys who don't take class action cases, queasy about their settlements and our growing 'hellhole' reputation, privately say the proposed rule changes sound fine with them.

But they're not backing them because of who is supporting them.


One medical malpractice specialist warned his colleagues on the plaintiff-friendly Illinois State Bar Association board not to be "seduced" by the reasonable-sounding new Supreme Court Rule 225, drafted by attorneys at Chicago's McDermott, Will, & Emery and Sonnenschein, Nath, & Rosenthal.

ISBA-- surprise-- is opposing the measure.

Plaintiff's bar, unite.

The Rules Committee meets January 24 Chicago's James R. Thompson Center.

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