Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs William Moschella.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA)
Just bring it
Faithful readers will remember The Record's report back in September that U.S. Rep. Charlie Norwood (R-GA) had asked U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to investigate Madison County's courts.
In a letter to Ashcroft, Norwood wrote that the Madison County court system "regularly applies the civil laws in an unfair manner and violates the fundamental constitutional rights of defendants, particularly those that hail from other states, including my own."
Former Madison County judge and asbestos attorney Randy Bono fired back.
"This man is not smart enough to have written that letter," Bono said, "If they want an investigation, I say bring it on."
Well, four months and several elections later, Norwood's press secretary John Stone tells Dicta that his boss is indeed bringing it.
"The congressman will see this through," said Stone. "He's proceeding in the appropriate manner."
Stone reports that Norwood's office last corresponded on December 6 with their point man at the Department of Justice on the matter, that's Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs William Moschella.
Moschella has some experience with the investigation gig. He formerly served as chief investigative counsel for the U.S. House Judiciary Committee during President Bill Clinton's impeachment.
No computers, no talking with lawyers, and no reading The Record.
These are the rules for jurors at the Madison County Courthouse these days.
Before being bounced as 'biased,' a member of The Record team last week had the pleasure of sitting through 3rd Circuit juror orientation. So color her surprised when, in the middle of her spiel, the instructor held up a copy of our paper.
"If you are caught with this newspaper, it will be confiscated," she told the would-be jurors, surely prompting flashbacks to high school Saturday detention.
The newspaper censorship was selective; the very vanilla Edwardsville Intelligencer was not off limits.
Dicta is surmising that this ban is the handiwork of Chief Judge Edward Ferguson, seen a few months back tossing copies of our latest edition in the trash.
Our offer still stands-if your paper is confiscated just give a holler down to our Main Street office and we'll hand deliver one to the courthouse.
Home sweet home
Watch enough asbestos hearings at the Madison County courthouse and one gets to wondering-what's the deal with John Crane?
Like so many other industrial companies, the Morton Grove, Illinois is named as a defendant in hundreds of Madison County lawsuits alleging harm from asbestos. But it alone seems not to mind that these cases were filed in our "plaintiff-friendly" venue.
When defense attorneys-as routine-- try to have the case moved somewhere less hostile, Illinois-based John Crane's attorney, Edward Burns, is always there to object.
"My client does business in Madison County and wants to do more business in Madison County," Burns likes to say.
Burns' peers tell Dicta that John Crane objects to moving--and drawing out--asbestos cases because it knows it has no liability and will likely be dropped from the lawsuit.
Moreover, they believe that plaintiffs who name John Crane as a defendant do so with an alterior motive.
"They know Burns will get up in front of the judge and object to moving the case," said one defense attorney. "It's frustrating."
John Crane is the world's largest maker of mechanical seals, used when pumping potentially hazardous materials like liquid nitrogen, argon, and oxygen.