Circuit Judge Daniel Stack
A mandatory arbitration program under review could help reduce the burden on Madison County's clogged courts.
Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis announced Wednesday that she has appointed Circuit Judge Daniel Stack and Associate Judge Barbara Crowder to chair a committee to develop a possible mandatory arbitration program.
"All of the circuit judges in the Third District have expressed support for the concept of mandatory arbitration," Stack said in a press release.
"We are interested in exploring how it has worked in other court systems and working through the nuts-and bolts of how we could implement such a program here."
The program, which would help expedite the resolution of smaller cases and reduce the burden on courts and juries, would be based on successful pilot programs undertaken in 15 other Illinois court systems.
Arbitration is designed to expedite the resolution of cases in which the dispute is less than $50,000 by requiring parties to enter the program before proceeding to trial.
"In response to my request for ideas to reform our local court system, Judge Crowder has proposed to the circuit judges that we consider implementing a mandatory arbitration program in our circuit," Callis said.
"My fellow circuit judges have shown a strong interest in this program and authorized me to appoint a committee to develop a proposal."
Neighboring St. Clair County has already implemented such a system and the committee is expected to consult with Chief Judge Jan Fiss, former Chief Judge Steve Kernan, Circuit Judge Annette Eckert and Arbitration Administrator Kathy Tissier.
"Other jurisdictions have reported success with expediting the resolution of smaller cases, weeding out weak cases and reducing the time and expense of hearing these cases both for the courts and for the parties involved," Crowder said.
The committee also is expected to review data collected by the Illinois Supreme Court on the pilot programs.
Last month Callis issued a new rule imposing restrictions on cases that have little connection to Madison or Bond counties.
Callis said the goal of the rule is to limit cases brought by out-of-state attorneys to those with a legitimate and direct connection to our counties.
On her second day as chief judge on May 2, Callis ordered that plaintiffs in class action cases filed in the Third Circuit be allowed only one substitution of judge as of right.
In Illinois any party to a lawsuit can substitute a judge once without cause.