Stack considering retirement in 2010 to take up mediation

Steve Gonzalez Aug. 27, 2008, 8:32am


Madison County's presiding civil and asbestos judge is considering a career change.

In a recent interview, Circuit Judge Daniel Stack he is "seriously debating" retiring at the end of his current term which ends on Dec. 10, 2010, to do mediation work in his free time.

"I am acquiring information right now, but it (mediation) appears very attractive to me right now," Stack said.

In addition to handling an increasing asbestos docket, Stack also had the largest civil caseload of any of the five judges in Madison County assigned to handle civil cases.

Stack, a Granite City native, has been a judge since 1986, when he was appointed as an associate judge. He had a 18 month break from the bench when he was not retained by circuit judges in July 1995.

He was reappointed in January 1997, and in 2002 was appointed to circuit judge. Stack ran unopposed in 2004.

During his career, Stack said he has served in every division.

"I have never tried a murder trial, but have tried some other felony cases," Stack said.

In 2004, Stack took over the asbestos docket from Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron. Shortly after taking the reins of the asbestos docket, Stack did something Byron never did, that was transfer a case that did not belong on the docket.

In his first forum ruling as chief of the nation's largest asbestos case docket, Stack argued the "astronomical burden" of looming trials demanded he dismiss cases that were not connected directly to Madison County.

In Paul & Lorraine Palmer v. Riley Stoker Corp. et. al., Stack ordered the case moved to a courtroom closer to "where the plaintiff claims (asbestos) exposure."

The Palmers lived in Baton Rouge, La.

Stack pondered how Madison County would hold up if every asbestos lawsuit filed in its courts did go to trial, suggesting that the "cash cow" asbestos docket would quickly overwhelm local taxpayer resources to the expense of plaintiffs.

"It is not the function of the courts to make money," Stack wrote. "This is not a business. It is the function of the courts to administer justice."

Stack has also presided over many civil trials since 2004, including four asbestos trials, a Vioxx trial, a welding rod trial and several personal injury trials, with a majority of those resulting in defense verdicts.

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