Defense asks for mistrial in legal malpractice case against Thompson Coburn; Stack denies

Steve Gonzalez Feb. 12, 2008, 11:39pm


Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack had to consider calling a mistrial Tuesday in a professional negligence case against the law firm Thompson Coburn.

Representing Magna Bank (now Regions), plaintiff's attorney Rex Carr -- whose trial skills are legendary -- informed Stack that he had been giving daily transcripts to some of his witnesses.

Carr told Stack that he has supplied trial transcripts to his experts, including his star, Belleville attorney Tom Keefe.

He said the only other time he had to deal with daily trial transcripts was during the historic three-and-a-half year-long dioxin trial he pursued in St. Clair County.

Potential witnesses were allowed to review the transcripts in that case, he said, due to the sheer volume of evidence presented during the record setting civil trial against Monsanto.

After Carr's surprise announcement that he let witnesses see that transcripts, Carrie Hogan of Jones Day in Chicago wanted Stack to call a mistrial.

Stack, who came in to work on a state holiday for judges (Lincoln's birthday), called a recess and advised Carr and Hogan to discuss the possibility of a settlement, but those talks stalled after about an hour of discussions.

Afterwards, Carr said he would exclude any witness that saw the transcripts.

Faced with a dilemma, Stack told Carr to stop giving the transcripts to witnesses and told Hogan that if she wished she could also give the same transcripts to her witnesses.

Hogan put several objections on the record just in case she would need to appeal a decision.

Keefe is expected to testify next week.

Magna sued Thompson Coburn in 2004 alleging it was negligent for not filing an appeal with the Illinois Supreme Court over a decision that allowed James Gibson to have his way with structured settlement funds.

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