In the spotlight

By The Madison County Record | Dec 11, 2004

Is Byron packing?... A trial lawyer vies for GOP Chairman... & the MCR vs. the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.



Is Judge Nicholas Byron reducing his caseload in anticipation of his nearing (but long-anticipated) retirement?

“A telltale sign,” said one longtime Madison County courthouse observer, is in case assignments.

Byron, 74, ‘retired’ from Madison County’s asbestos docket over the summer. He has served as a judge since 1989.

“If you see him getting fewer cases, you know it is getting close."

Once last month and this, the normal pattern was upset when Chief Judge Ferguson passed over Byron while doling out assignments.

What does this mean? Perhaps Byron is ready to enjoy life after Madison County.


St. Clair County Republican activist Steve McGlynn fashions himself the favorite to be elected the next chairman of the Illinois Republican Party. He predicted as much on a Chicago radio show last week.

That’s Steve McGlynn, trial lawyer with the firm of McGlynn & McGlynn in Belleville.

Is it a bit ironic that a trial lawyer — a breed that is perhaps public GOP enemy #1 -- could take over the Illinois GOP itself?

“There is little that is not ironic about the Illinois Republican Party,” said a top Illinois political operative and The Record snoop familiar with the situation.

Our source says McGlynn, currently state GOP co-chair, is facing a fight from deep-pocketed former U.S. Senate candidate Andy McKenna.

Conventional wisdom is that McKenna, a connected businessman from Chicago’s northern suburbs, would be the consensus choice of the GOP’s established ‘moneyed’ interests who excel at fundraising. McGlynn is not known for his fundraising prowess.

But McGlynn, who supported McKenna’s Senate campaign, claims he has enough support on the State Central Committee, which makes the choice. Did he cut a deal then to secure McKenna’s support today?

Current state GOP chairman Judy Baar Topinka plans on resigning this January.

Getting bent

Of all The Record’s media attention garnered last week, this column
loves most that it earned a mention in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch news story.

Reporter Paul Hampel dubbed ‘Dicta’ “an irreverent take on courthouse news and gossip with a decidedly anti-trial-lawyer bent.”

We don’t agree with his “bent” on our bent, but we’ll take the publicity where we can get it.

Our view is that Dicta (and The Record as a whole) is no more “anti”
anyone or anything than the P-D or Edwardsville Intelligencer is “pro.”

The past few years have seen a massive increase in major civil activity at these here courts. That the usual media suspects declined to step up coveage is a commentary in itself.

Call it bias, ignorance, or laziness. Whatever the case, Madison County didn't earn its one-of-a-kind “hell hole” label on our watch.

As for the refreshingly enterprising Mr. Hampel, if the P-D had stationed three or four of him here long ago we might have never felt the need to start The Record in the first place.

Ivory Tower

The P-D's editorial page also predictably took issue with our 'credibility' last week, calling The Record “a throwback to the bad old days of journalism” because we don't run a disclaimer with our stories or on our masthead.

We can see it now: “WARNING: The investors in this newspaper are 'pro-business' and these stories might prove hazardous to trial lawyers.”

Now that's a standard only the plaintiff's bar could love. Which is the point.

Count us in agreement with Reason magazine's opinion that such a view's “condescension to the world's savviest media consumers is breathtaking.”

We the “savvy” judge the Post-Dispatch on the substance of what it writes, not the politics of its investors or the economic interests of its advertisers.

You don't need a warning to read The Record-- just an open mind.

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