Stiff winds

by The Madison County Record |
Oct. 30, 2005, 5:53am



Smoke screen

Is powerful Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan—a trial lawyer himself and regular ally of plaintiff’s causes—cheering for Philip Morris in its pending Illinois Supreme Court battle over the Price verdict?

Dicta hears he is, as Price could seriously cramp his state budgeting style this election season.

If it stands, Price would slap the tobacco maker with the $10.1 billion in damages assessed by Madison County Judge-Activist Nicholas Byron.

As it doesn’t grow on trees, an upheld Price means Philip Morris’ ability to pay that verdict and as the “Master Settlement Agreement” with the states would be compromised.

That agreement is worth hundreds of millions a year to Illinois taxpayers—quite relevant in these tight budget times.

In other news, on October 18 Philip Morris handed over its latest interest payment on the verdict to Madison County-- $2,798,458.01.

No love

The recent huddle of Madison County Democrats produced a list of judicial endorements which glaringly did not include Circuit Court Judge George Moran Jr.

Moran's term expires in 2006, the same time as Circuit Judges Anne Callis, Charles Romani and John Knight, all endorsed by “The Party.”

What are Moran's prospects?

If he runs for re-election, because of seniority his name will be tops on the ballot. A “no” vote for him—pushed by any organized anti-Moran campaign-- might have unintended coattails.

Moran could retire tomorrow with a full-ride pension, though Dicta hears that is highly unlikely.

Lunch bunch

As a result of the Madison County strike, Chief Judge Edward Ferguson changed the hours of the circuit clerk's office until further notice, hoping to give their over-taxed staff time to catch up.

Normally open eight hours a day -- from 8:30a to 4:30p—the clerk now only takes visitors from 8:30a until noon and from 1p to 2:30p.

The new hours have been a source of consternation for locals who opt to pay tickets on their lunch hour or after work. According to Judge David Grounds, the court is aware of the issue and is offering several days of leniency before issuing warrants on fines unpaid.

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Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan Illinois Supreme Court

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