Undue influence?

The Madison County Record Dec. 11, 2005, 2:53am

John Simmons

Should Judge Ralph Mendelsohn recuse himself from the guardianship battle over Madison County lawyer Rob Rongey?

Courthouse chattering classes tell Dicta they think he should. They fear Mendelsohn, an associate member of the bench, sits in too difficult a position as one of his bosses-- in effect-- is Rongey's ex-wife, Circuit Judge Ann Callis.

Callis and Rongey divorced eight years ago and have a 13-year old daughter.

Mendelsohn is responsible for choosing Rongey's guardian among his family members—- responsible for not just him but his estate, including more than half a million dollars worth of assets.

Rongey, 45, was made a ward of the state in August after spending months in a coma.

It's a hike

Cardinals' slugger Albert Pujols started his professional baseball career at age 20, in the Class "A" Midwest League, stationed in Peoria.

That baseball's minors cultivate such future sluggers explains, in part, why Southern Illinois was rejected last week as a potential Class "A" outpost.

The Midwest League denied East Alton attorney John Simmons attempt to buy a team in South Bend and move it to Marion, asserting that it's too much of a hike.

Richard Nussbaum II, legal counsel for the Midwest League, says it's policy to "compact" teams--less travel is preferred for its 14 teams spread across Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan and (one in) Ohio.

"Marion, Ill. as a territory does not fit," Nussbaum said.

If the South Bend Silver Hawks moved to Marion, there'd be an average increase of 200 miles per team per trip.

"That's 2,600 miles of additional travel," he said.

It's about economics. And not burning out 18-23 year-olds—the prime assets of major league baseball clubs --with 500-mile, six-to-seven-hour-long road trips.

When you might have a Pujols in hand, you handle with care.

And for what it's worth, Baseball America magazine ranks South Bend outfielder Carlos Gonzalez as the top prospect in the league and a future major league star. You heard it here first.

More heavenly?

The American Tort Reform Association releases its fourth-annual "Judicial Hellholes" report on Tuesday, and Dicta is predicting that it will conclude that Madison and St. Clair Counties have not defended their title.

The federal legislation and Judge Dan Stack proved too promising, we calculate.

Madison and St. Clair ranked 1-2 in 2004.

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