Remember all those people who voted for hope and change back in 2008 – and again in 2012, after four years of disappointment?

We found it hard to believe that anyone could fall for empty promises the first time around, much less the second. And yet, we ourselves are not immune to the beguiling appeal of a potential new beginning and the transformation of a status quo into something better.

Last October, we editorialized about a cause for hope and the possibility of change here in the Metro East:

“How often have advocates of legal reform heard their friends and associates ask what one person can do about the judicial hellhole that is Madison County?

The answer is: plenty. One person could do a lot to change the climate of corruption in our community, particularly if that one person were a judge – say, a judge in charge of our asbestos docket.”

We explained how the right judge could make things better, by discouraging case filings from plaintiffs with no connection to Madison, dismissing flimsy cases, etc. And we wrote that incoming Associate Justice Stephen Stobbs, though just one person, “could make a real difference.”

We didn't promise or predict that Stobbs would be a reformer, but we did hope so, and we did allow ourselves the innocent expectation of anticipating improvement in the quality of our court system and a refurbishment of our community's reputation.

So, how's that hope-for-change stuff working out for us?

Not too good, so far.

With more than 90 percent of asbestos litigation in Madison County being filed on behalf of out-of-state claimants, the simplest way to decrease the burden on our courts would be to declare this venue a forum non conveniens.

To our great disappointment, however, Judge Stobbs, thus far, seems to be disinclined to make such a ruling.

Nevertheless, while his denials of forum non conveniens are being appealed, we still hold on to our hope for change.

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