With friends like these...

The Madison County Record Oct. 9, 2005, 6:15am



Buddy system?

If former state Appellate Court Judge and Supreme Court candidate Gordon Maag is looking for a friendlier reception for his $110 million defamation lawsuit—bounced from state court this summer—the Democrat-dominated U.S. District Court in East St. Louis might be the place.

The court’s Chief Judge G. Patrick Murphy, an unabashed Democrat, once had Maag’s son and current Lakin lawyer Thomas as a clerk.

And federal Judge David Herndon—assigned the case—runs in the same Madison County circles as Maag. He’s a former partner at the Lakin Law Firm—then Lakin & Herndon-- in Wood River, where Maag is currently stationed. Both men attended name partner Brad Lakin’s wedding.

In a previous life, Herndon, 51, was a lawyer so connected he managed a financial interest in the Alton Belle casino, making him a multi-millionaire. He’s been a judge since 1991, appointed first to the Third Circuit as an associate and a decade later to the federal bench by President Bill Clinton, replacing the legendary Judge William L. Beatty.

Saving face

Initial mistakes make the front page, but the postscript is too often buried.

Case in point from Madison County court, where without fanfare, Associate Judge Ellar Duff has refused to reconsider a contempt of court charge she had issued in July against Beth Ritchie of Alton.

Ritchie, you may remember, made headlines when she was ordered by Duff to return a gun to her ex-husband, a convicted felon. When she refused, the judge ordered her in contempt and jailed.

Giving a gun to such a man would be a felony in itself, of course. Duff claims she didn’t know her ex-husband had a record, though he and Ritchie herself claim they told the judge as much during a July hearing.

Now that she does know, dropping the contempt charge would seem the natural thing to do. But not for Duff, apparently, who surmises that to correct her mistake would be to effectively admit it. And she’s holding fast that the Ritchie incident isn’t “her fault.”

Amazing what one cannot accomplish when they incessantly worry about who gets the blame, isn’t it?

Hitched to a Redbird

SimmonsCooper’s big sponsorship of KMOX’s St. Louis Cardinals’ broadcasts this season is paying off somehow, as the team eyes its second World Series appearance in a row.

St. Louis marketing sources tell Dicta the asbestos-specialty plaintiff’s law firm easily spent “hundreds of thousands” this season to splash its name on the team’s post-game show, all as part of an effort to show a softer side to the business community.

With their once-lucrative asbestos assembly line drying up, SimmonsCooper has been on the prowl for new lawyerly opportunities, including representation of the companies it traditionally made its bones suing.

We love the Cards here at Dicta and we hardly doubt the attraction of such an association, but color us skeptical.

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