Travis Akin Oct. 24, 2012, 12:23pm
The lawsuit industry has gone all in for a local judicial campaign.
Newly released campaign finance reports show Judy Cates, the Democratic nominee for an open seat on the Southern Illinois-based 5th District Appellate Court and past president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, has received close to $150,000 in campaign contributions from her fellow personal injury lawyers in just the past three months, prompting questions about her willingness to help Southern Illinois shed its reputation as a job-killing “Judicial Hellhole” if elected.
Cates is raking in huge sums of cash from her fellow personal injury lawyers in Southern Illinois, but she’s also taken in big bucks from personal injury lawyers in Chicago and even a whopping $10,000 check from a personal injury lawyer firm in California.
Why would a California law firm care about who serves on the 5th District Appellate Court in Illinois?
The answer is simple. Personal injury lawyers have used big campaign contributions to elect their friends to the bench, which has transformed Illinois into the fifth worst state in the country for legal fairness and lawsuit abuse, according to a report issued last month by the Harris Survey Company.
Having a reputation as a “personal injury lawyer’s paradise” and being ranked as one of the nation’s worst “judicial hellholes” is not just embarrassing, it’s also killing job growth efforts in Southern Illinois. Thus, the stakes in this otherwise obscure judicial race are huge.
Too many judges have allowed the personal injury lawyers to turn our courts into their own personally profitable playground. Will Judy Cates, an activist personal injury lawyer and past president of the personal injury lawyers’ lobbying group, actually stand up to her fellow personal injury lawyers and work to restore fairness to the courts? That’s a key question for voters as they head to the polls next month.
Electing good judges who apply doctrines of common sense and fairness will help Southern Illinois shed its image as a “lawsuit magnet” and “judicial hellhole. In these difficult economic times, Southern Illinois needs to be a magnet for jobs, not lawsuits.