The Madison County Record Mar. 13, 2005, 2:18am




Hot prospect?

Since being charged with managing Madison County’s massive asbestos docket last fall, 3rd Circuit Judge Daniel J. Stack has earned more than his fair share of notoriety.

Stack has proven quite a contrast with his “plaintiff-friendly” predecessor, Judge Nicholas Byron. Ruling on several occasions that plaintiffs with no connection to Madison County should not file lawsuits in its courts, Stack’s reasonable behavior has proven enough to drive some mega-asbestos lawsuit filers to try their luck somewhere else, like Belleville.

One Dicta source even went so far as to characterize Judge Stack as “defendant-friendly.” So the pendulum swings.

Now Dicta sources say the new sheriff in town—Republican Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier—may have his eye on Stack for a slot on the 5th District Appellate Court in Mt. Vernon.

As the top judge for Southern Illinois, Karmeier has say over such things.

Fellow 3rd Circuit Judge Philip Kardis, you might remember, had his heart set on such a promotion before Karmeier shocked the world with his upset victory over Appellate Court Judge Gordon Maag.

All Wet

Trial lawyer-backed advocacy “group” Victims and Families United held a press conference last week on the Madison County Courthouse steps, announcing a campaign to stop tort reform by barraging opinion-makers with water bottles and “weekly fact sheets.”

We say “group” because this more of a one-man show, starring former GOP operative Doug Wojcieszak in every role. He’s the actor, producer, director, publicist and, apparently, the waterboy.

Wojcieszak plans to hand out 1,000 water bottles to members of the General Assembly and news media to prove his point, which is that lawyers, er.., victims should be able to make an unlimited number of millions in Illinois courtroom verdicts.

We think the bottles will remind drinkers of that famous Kane County, Illinois class action lawsuit against Poland Spring Natural Spring Water, charging its product was neither from Poland nor from a spring.

The company settled, admitted no wrongdoing, and did not change anything about how it bottles or markets its water. Drinkers got coupons, if they asked. And the lawyers got $1.35 million.

Good luck with those fact sheets.

Biz blues

Compounding Illinois’ weak-and-getting-weaker performance in the Harris Poll, which asks 1,437 large companies to rank state court systems, is the strength of our nearby neighbors.

Illinois ranked 46th while Iowa (5th) and Indiana (6th) and Minnesota (7th) made it into the top ten. Wisconsin is ranked 17th.

The Harris results came on the heels of a National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) survey of our small business owners that showed only 16% believe Illinois economic climate was “supportive.”

“Illinois small business owners.. are losing confidence in where our great state is headed,” said Kim Clark Maisch, NFIB’s Illinois state director.

The Harris Poll was commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, an owner of this newspaper.

Duly noted

Technically, the Belleville News-Democrat is a St. Clair County newspaper. But its coverage of that newsworthy courthouse in Edwardsville has always trumped the work of Madison County’s hometown titles.

BND courts reporter Brian Brueggemann gets credit for this from faithful readers who follow his reports on Main Street. Now he’s getting the professional equivalent, a promotion.

Brueggeman’s new title is Collinsville Assistant Bureau Chief . That doesn’t mean he’s abandoning its courts, rather, he’ll be training and guiding more Brian Brueggemans. We’ll all be better for that.

Congrats, Brian.

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