Even though the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear plaintiff Sharon Price's appeal of the infamous $10.1 billion "lights" verdict, Philip Morris is still paying Madison County.

That's $4,020,046.36 to be exact, in a check to county coffers deposited April 17, four months after the verdict was overturned by the Illinois Supreme Court.

The tobacco maker must still pay interest on the Price bond, due to lawyer Steve Tillery's pending motion asking the Illinois Supreme Court to reconsider its decision.

Flush with cash, County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan has taken to touting the county's beautiful balance sheet. Ironically, had the Price decision gone the other way, it may well have crushed the state of Illinois' ugly one.

Forced to pay $10.1 billion, Philip Morris wouldn't have been able to also pay it's obliged billions-- including $360 million to Illinois-- under the 1998 "Master Settlement Agreement" between the largest tobacco companies and the states.


Not that they shouldn't all just get along, but the attendance of Circuit Judges Ann Callis, Charles Romani and John Knight (Democrats) -- running for retention in November -- turned a few heads at Circuit Judge Don Weber's (Republican) fundraiser in Godfrey on April 20.

Perhaps Callis, Romani and Knight are looking for ways to improve their public image.

According to another poll commissioned by asbestos kings SimmonsCooper, the trio are bleeding popularity.

In December, only 55 percent of voters indicated they would vote to retain the judges. They need 60 percent. Sources tell Dicta the latest approval numbers were abysmal-- around 30 percent.

Callis, who takes over as chief judge on May 1, has ample opportunity to earn some ink and turn the tide.

It's free

Need help with a burning legal issue?

No, it's not a round-up of injured workers. Monday, May 1 is Law Day in the hallowed halls of Madison County's Courthouse. Free legal advice, dispensed by local lawyers, will be available all day at the courthouse.

Typically, domestic and estate-type lawyers are on call to answer potential clients' questions.

Opportunity knocks

Judge wannabees -- attorneys David Hylla (Democratic candidate for circuit judge) and Steve Stobbs (Republican county board member) -- have been passed over for Madison County judgeships time and again.

But this time, sources tell Dicta, Godfrey-ite Stobbs has a lock on the associate judgeship, a position newly authorized by the Illinois Supreme Court.

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