Chief Judge Edward Ferguson accused the Madison County Record of a "ridiculous allegation," but the word that upset him did not appear in the newspaper.

Ferguson, in his March 29 order denying substitution of Circuit Judge Don Weber for cause in 14 cases, wrote that he did not base his decision on pressure from any interest group or publication or group of attorneys.

He wrote, "It is not based upon as has been stated a Judge trying to 'restore the integrity of the court system.' That promotes a perception that there is no integrity in the courts and I refuse to accept such a ridiculous allegation."

Ferguson did not identify the source, but he meant the Record.

The Record used the word "integrity" in a March 27 report announcing that Ferguson would hear the Weber matter rather than assign it to a circuit judge.

The Record did not use the word, restore. That verb would imply a lack of integrity.

The Record stated that Ferguson would hold the integrity of his court in his hands. That choice of words implied the presence of integrity, not its absence.

Ferguson's low regard for the Record showed through at two other points in his order.

He complained of "publications which give greater and often undue importance to matters that are happening in the court system."

He wrote, "This is not a plaintiff or defendant issue and it continues to be mischaracterized by some in the press."

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