An obese asbestos trial calendar is draining your tax dollars

The Madison County Record Mar. 31, 2012, 5:00am

Remember, back in the 1980s, how everyone was clamoring for an internet? Nobody knew exactly what it was because it didn't exist yet, but everyone wanted one, and that's why somebody finally invented it.

Remember how everyone kept demanding cell phones, personal computers and microwaves until someone finally invented each of these things?

If your memory of the chronology of these wondrous inventions differs from ours, it's because we've completely inverted it. The actual chronology was quite the opposite: the inventions came first and the demand came later.

You may have recognized our inversion of events right away. Nevertheless, 25 years after the end of the Reagan Administration, when supply-side economics came to the fore, many Americans are still having trouble understanding how "supply creates demand."

Madison County Circuit Court Judge Barbara Crowder saw quite clearly how the theory worked in her courtroom.

Crowder created more than 500 trial slots for her 2013 asbestos docket – and wouldn't you know, they all got filled up?

But here's the thing: Most of the cases did not exist when the trial slots were created. In other words, the majority of slots were not created to accommodate anticipated cases; the cases were created to fill the slots. Moreover, few of the cases have legitimate connections to Madison County.

There's no asbestos health crisis in Madison county, but there is an unhealthy, obese asbestos calendar here.

Three local asbestos law firms received 82 percent of those slots and soon after, they donated $30,000 to Crowder's campaign committee. Crowder subsequently was removed from the asbestos docket and given less challenging duties.

Now more than 60 asbestos defendant companies are trying to convince her successor, Associate Judge Clarence Harrison, that the court's trial reservation system is in dire need of reform.

"Without reform, Madison County will unfortunately continue as the destination for asbestos cases arising from coast to coast," their brief warns.

In other words, our supply is creating the demand. And your tax dollars are paying for that courtroom feeding frenzy.

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