Madison County Circuit Judge Don Weber granted 22 substitution motions for the Lakin Law Firm "as a matter of right" during a hearing Thursday, a week after the firm argued unsuccessfully that he should be removed for bias.
Weber signed off on the Lakin class action cases that remained on his docket after the firm tried removing them for cause. During a contentious hearing in Chief Judge Ed Ferguson's court last week, Lakin attorneys suggested Weber was biased because the firm sued him 13 years ago.
All totaled, Weber has been substituted by plaintiff's attorneys a whopping 114 times since taking over for retired Judge Phillip Kardis in November.
Meanwhile, Madison County is adding another associate judge position to help with the court's heavy caseload.
Two days after the raucous hearing, Ferguson ruled that the firm's lawyers did not "meet their burden" to show that Weber was biased and ordered that the cases should remain on his docket. That prompted the Lakin Firm to file substitutions as a matter of right.
Weber did manage to keep four of Lakin's class action cases when he denied the "as a matter of right" motions. He ruled that in class actions the class representatives are only allowed one change together, not one per each named plaintiff.
Paul Marks and Robert Schmieder of the Lakin Firm argued that Weber should sign the orders along with the 22 arguing each named plaintiff has a right.
Schmieder told Weber that he disagreed with Weber's interpretation of the law, which prompted Weber to reply, "…guess who is going to win the argument?"
The remark inspired a few chuckles from lawyers in the audience.
Weber also told Schmieder that if he wished to file a motion to reconsider he would review the motion and rule in a timely matter.
At the end of the hearing Weber thanked the lawyers for coming and wished them luck with their cases when they are reassigned to different judges.