Several Springfield GOP operatives are actively surmising that the Illinois Supreme Court has plans to move Madison County's asbestos docket north to Chicago's Cook County.
Their rationale: plaintiff's attorneys may force the move to get their asbestos cases away from the ever-increasing hellhole heat.
Such a move would be unprecedented and, to be sure, would never come without significant public debate and comment. But keep an eye on the Supremes.
The prospect does beg one question: seeing as it would be at the behest of their opponents, would defense lawyers and tort reformers oppose a move of the asbestos docket out of Madison County?
Local legal eagles in the know tell The Record that Madison County's Chief Judge Edward Ferguson is quietly shopping around the idea of his retirement.
That makes him the third Madison County Circuit Court judge (including Judges Nicholas Byron and Philip Kardis) rumored to have one foot out the door.
This story goes that Ferguson, 60, would retire soon so that local powerbrokers could appoint a successor. And who would that be?
Well, our sources say that the top candidate would be multi-millionaire asbestos legal legend and former Chief Judge Randy Bono.
Bono has expressed "repeated interest" in the job. He last served on the bench from 1996 to 2000.
One Madison County lawyer noted that during that stint, Judge Bono's rulings played a hearty role in juicing up the Madison County class action machine.
Bono presided over cases resulting in $225 million in settlements against Ameritech, awarding $16 million in legal fees to lawyer/anti-smoking activist Stephen Tillery.
Hold on to your hats.
Elegant in its decor and sparkling with holiday spirit, Chicago's North Michigan Avenue paints quite the scene this time of year. Big spending shoppers call it the "Magnificent Mile."
Of course, according to a Chicago-stationed Dicta snoop, the Mag Mile is all old hat to the associates of East Alton law firm SimmonsCooper.
Compliments of the firm and led by name partner Jeffrey Cooper, SimmonsCooper attorneys converged on Chicago for a long weekend getaway last month, complete with city tours and a fab dinner at the city's hottest Japanese restaurant, Japonais.
All lawyers and their significant others, we're told, lodged at Chicago's top-rated (and $450+ per night) Peninsula Hotel, a favorite of regular Hollywood types Matt Damon and Jennifer Aniston.
Where else can you get a short stack of blueberry pancakes for $14.50?
The Illinois Civil Justice League (ICJL) has launched a Weblog, or Blog,
(http://icjl.blogspot.com) "devoted to judicial reform and fair courts in Illinois."
That's code for "news and comment, much of which will be about Madison County."
From the other side, Metro East plaintiff's attorney Evan Schaeffer has not one or two but three robust legal blogs (www.legalunderground.com, www.illinoislawblog.com, www.illinoistrialpractice.com). They're more general in scope but surely worth checking out. And don't miss his criticism of The Record.
Schaeffer wants this newspaper to "get the %*$& out of (his) town," as per a recent posting.
Schaeffer, we should mention, was awarded a plump $940,000 in September as per a Judge Kardis-approved settlement of a class action lawsuit he filed against SBC.
So he may have more time to blog than the ICJL guys, who we hear only got a few of those $10 phone cards.