Sweet sensitivity

The Madison County Record Aug. 21, 2005, 4:02am




A little tenderness

Lost amidst the substance of the Illinois Supreme Court’s Avery decision was a curious dissent, one that expressed compassion for the losing plaintiff’s lawyers.

In short, it made the case that Chicago Democrat Justice Mary Ann McMorrow’s majority opinion may have been correct, but it was just too mean.

McMorrow’s Chicago colleague Justice Charles Freeman wrote that her words “humiliated plaintiffs’ counsel” who stood to get at least $348 million in fees if Avery's $1.056 billion verdict stood.

Perhaps Freeman was so sensitive because this plaintiff’s counsel, at least indirectly, included a judge. Chief Judge G. Patrick Murphy of the U.S. District Court in East St. Louis first filed the Avery lawsuit back in 1997. His wife, Patricia, was still working on the case.


Judge Kardis is headed off to the Grand Canyon State, and the angling is on to fill the void on the Madison County bench.

At least one Dicta source thinks the nod will go to Madison County Associate Judge Ellar Duff of Alton, who would retire when Kardis’ term ends next year, leaving the seat open. A Republican—likely County Board Member and Alton lawyer Steve Stobbs—would take her place.

For Duff, 56, retiring as a circuit rather than associate judge would give a boost to her pension. She’s served on the Madison County bench since 1988.

Duff made headlines last month after she jailed an Alton woman who refused to return a handgun to her ex-husband, a convicted felon.

Ghost of Alan

As the U.S. Senate prepares to “advise and consent” on U.S. Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, some of his detractors are raising the specter of former U.S. Senator Alan Dixon’s fate.

Their message to senators: support Roberts and you should fear for your job.

"History shows us that voters turned on Alan Dixon for his vote on Clarence Thomas," said Nan Aron of the left-wing Alliance for Justice in the Washington Post last week.

For whatever reason, the three-term incumbent Dixon lost a three-way primary race in 1992 that gave us Illinois Carol Moseley-Braun. We all know how that turned out.

Born in Belleville, Dixon served in the Illinois legislature for 20 years and later as state treasurer and secretary of state before heading to Washington, D.C. in 1981. He’s a partner with law firm Bryan Cave in St. Louis, living in Fairview Heights.

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