Harris report shows there is still work to do in the Metro East

Travis Akin Sep. 13, 2012, 7:50am


It is the song that never ends. Yet another report has slapped Madison County as one of the most unfair and unreasonable court jurisdictions in the nation.

The highly respected survey company Harris Interactive ranks Illinois' lawsuit climate the fifth-worst in the country and Madison County's the sixth-most unfair and unreasonable jurisdiction in the country.

No college football fans would be happy to see their team ranked the sixth-worst in the nation and there certainly is no one cheering Madison County being ranked the sixth-worst county for lawsuit abuse – except, perhaps, for the personal injury lawyers who flock here to play the lawsuit lottery in the Metro-East's notoriously plaintiff-friendly courts.

Illinois' poor legal climate is hurting the ability of the state to attract new jobs and opportunities. Layoffs in Illinois topped 10,000 for the month of August. The unemployment rate is an eye-popping 8.9 percent in Illinois.

There is a direct correlation between jobs and the legal climate. According to the study, Creating Conditions for Economic Growth: The Role of the Legal Environment, NERA Economic Consulting released in 2011 for the Institute for Legal Reform, Illinois could save up to $2.4 billion in tort costs and create between 54,000 and 147,000 new jobs by improving its legal environment.

The need to reverse course is self-evident. One way for Madison County to change its status as one of the most unfair local jurisdictions in the country, is for area residents to pay attention to judicial elections. Personal injury lawyers will continue to push the envelope and find new ways to sue. This is why it is so important to have common-sense judges who will be balanced and fair in their rulings. It is time for us as citizens to stand together and make judicial elections a high priority.

If we are going to change the landscape in "Judicial Hellhole" the Metro East, then we need to pay attention to important judicial elections. It we are going to turn the Illinois economy around, we need to change our status as the "Lawsuit Capital of the Midwest." One way we can do this is to take the down ballot judicial elections more seriously.

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