McGlynn picks up ICJL endorsement

Ann Knef Aug. 1, 2006, 11:49am


Justice Steven McGlynn

An appointment to the Illinois Appellate Court a little more than a year ago has been the greatest honor of Justice Steven McGlynn's life.

The Belleville Republican, who is running for a full term to the Fifth District, said he is "proud to serve the cause of justice…addressing problems in court without compromising the ability of any party, plaintiff or defendant, big or small, to have full and fair resolution of their claims."

McGlynn picked up the endorsement of the Illinois Civil Justice League (ICJL) through its political action committee, JUSTPAC, and toured area media outlets Tuesday promoting the message, "keep reform alive."

"I'm happy the issues of reform are embraced by both parties," said McGlynn. "We're no longer in denial that reform is desperately needed."

McGlynn said the election of Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier in 2004 was the first step in correcting a court system "grossly out of balance."

Karmeier has been an "agent of change" in helping fill judicial vacancies throughout the district, McGlynn said.

The Fifth Judicial District includes the state's 37 southern-most counties. McGlynn will face Bruce Stewart of Harrisburg in the Nov. 7 general election.

Ed Murnane, ICJL president, said that McGlynn's election is necessary to continue court reforms ushered in by Karmeier.

"What happened in southern Illinois in 2004 was the first signal that fairness and common sense are returning to the court system," said Murnane, who accompanied McGlynn.

Murnane said that if McGlynn is not successful the "same forces of darkness" that damaged the court's reputation would return.

"The lawyers who make their living by suing businesses and doctors and local governments are not happy with the changes that have been made and they will do everything they can and spend every dollar they can to roll those changes back," said Murnane.

"The situation in the Metro East has been growing for years and years," said Murnane. "It's not new. It's been here a long time."

"We absolutely have to continue this reform movement by electing Justice McGlynn," he said.

Murane said that several Illinois Supreme Court decisions overturning lower court decisions in southern Illinois -- two from Madison County -- have helped restore the appearance of credibility to the courts.

"Since Judge Karmeier's election, the Supreme Court has issued several major decisions that tell the world that Illinois is not a hostile environment in which to practice medicine, in which to do business or in which to live," said Murnane.

Murnane also said that slight, but noticable improvements in Madison and St. Clair counties "judicial hellhole" ranking this year and a better ranking in the Harris Poll are effects of change in the state's judiciary.

Setting the tone

McGlynn said that an appellate court decision issued four months into his appointment "set the tone" for his tenure.

He wrote the majority opinion that tossed an injury case, McGinty v. Norfolk Southern, out of Madison County because of improper forum.

In a 2-1 decision, McGlynn wrote that Liberty, Mo. resident Patrick K. McGinty's brief travels through Madison County "stretched the bounds" for appropriate venue.

McGinty filed suit against Norfolk Southern in 2003 alleging repetitive-trauma injuries to his back, neck, shoulders, and knees. He claimed his injuries occurred over the 30-year duration of his employment with Norfolk Southern.

"At no time during his Norfolk Southern employment did McGinty live in Madison County or anywhere else in Illinois," McGlynn wrote. "McGinty alleges that there was a brief period of time during which he performed Norfolk Southern work in Madison County."

In September of 2004, Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian denied Norfolk's motion to dismiss the suit leading to Norfolk's appeal.

Norfolk argued that there was no connection between the claim filed and Madison County.

"In essence, McGinty claims that because his injuries are of a repetitive type and because he did work at least some period of time in Madison County, at least some of his injuries occurred in Madison County," McGlynn wrote.

"During his deposition, McGinty was unable to specifically tie his injuries to any one accident, incident, or other reportable condition that occurred during his Madison County employment.

"If we accept this theory, as the trial court did, then no matter how remote in time the employment at issue was, the 'injury' occurred in Madison County."

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