Crowder returned $30K campaign contributions on Dec. 16

Ann Maher Jan. 19, 2012, 11:40pm


Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder returned $30,000 in campaign contributions she received last month from lawyers at the top three local asbestos firms.

The contributions, which set off a firestorm and resulted in Crowder's reassignment, were received a few days after she made a favorable ruling for those firms in the 2013 trial setting order.

Crowder returned the donations on Dec. 16, according to a recent report filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis reassigned Crowder from the asbestos docket on Dec. 12. Crowder now handles chancery, miscellaneous remedies and chancery cases.

In the wake of the shakeup, Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan, a Democrat, formally asked the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board to conduct an investigation. And, Madison County Board Member Mike Walters, a Republican from Godfrey, called for Crowder's resignation.

Lawyers at the Simmons firm in Alton and lawyers at the Edwardsville firms of Goldenberg Heller and Gori and Julian made the contributions.

The firms also received 82 percent of the nearly 500 trial settings for 2013, per Crowder's Dec. 2 ruling.

Crowder has said that she did not violate the code of judicial conduct.

Crowder, a Democrat, was elected circuit judge in 2006 and is up for retention in November's general election.

Her husband, Edwardsville attorney Lawrence Taliana, had served as the Friends of Barbara Crowder campaign chairman until the controversy arose. Richard Stamer, Jr. of Edwardsville replaced Taliana as chair.

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