Rehab project

The Madison County Record Feb. 6, 2005, 4:21pm

Madison County’s asbestos-given reputation will be a long time repairing. But Judge Daniel Stack looks up to the task.

Whatever happens and however long it takes, just four months into his tenure on top of the 3rd Circuit Court’s “Asbestos Docket,” one thing seems for certain. Stack is no Judge Byron.

That’s Byron as in Nicholas Byron, who ruled Madison County’s asbestos docket for a decade before quitting last summer.

By that time, his name and pro-plaintiff habits had become household with the national legal reform crowd. And Madison County was officially best known as America's “legal hellhole.”

Stack’s dismissal of 25 cases January 28 was a baby step on the road back. In particular, his strong stand against “forum shopping”-- the legal tactic of bringing a case here with an out-of-area plaintiff because Madison County’s court is perceived to be more “friendly”—proves he gets it.

Friendly is nice—but courts are supposed to be fair. And plaintiffs with no connection to our communities just clog up and complicate our courts. We agree with Judge Stack that they have no business here.

Of course, the plaintiffs themselves don't choose our courthouse as their litigation destination. This rehab project starts and ends with the 3rd Circuit’s plaintiff’s attorney magnetism.

Madison County has been to entrepreneurial lawyers what Silicon Valley has been to software engineers. Lawsuits flock here like bugs do to light.

They do because plaintiff’s lawyers know they can see sure thing judges like Byron. There’s no use traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to have your case dismissed.

Maybe that’s why Madison County veteran asbestos lawyer Randy Gori took his game down the road to St. Clair County late last week. Here’s guessing he misses Judge Byron.

We don’t. And if Judge Stack keeps calling them how he sees them, Madison County won’t.

With its rich history, rolling hills, baseball tradition and Midwestern charm, shouldn’t Edwardsville be known for more than its courthouse?

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