Asbestos magnate Jeff Cooper was recently airbrushed in a media report as a nationally renowned home-grown super-lawyer dangling a $100 million carrot before the lords of horseradishville.

As the story was told by a giddy green reporter from the Post-Dispatch, Cooper longs to bring professional soccer somewhere in the region. After searching everywhere but his own backyard, he found a city audience that didn't outright reject his dream, right here in the Metro-East.

Cooper's fans showed up en masse at a recent Collinsville City Council meeting -- so common these days -- and gushed "Go, Jeff Cooper," over his economic development plan.

But Cooper, who may very well be sought out by a client or two from here or afar, is not such a familiar face in the courthouse that helped make the Granite City native so many, many millions. Mr. Cooper nary files a brief at the Madison County Courthouse, much less enters an appearance.

Credit him this, the lawyer-marketer is well-known among late-night TV-junkies and insomniacs, tempted by the riches of jackpot justice.

That Cooper so longs to be known someday for something else-- just like his law partner John "Steinbrenner" Simmons-- speaks for itself.

Judy, Judy, Judy

The question remains, why?

The obvious reason for litigator/zealot Judy Cates to throw her name in as a Democratic candidate for the 5th Appellate Court seat is to teach the district's newest Illinois Supreme Court Justice Lloyd Karmeier an old-fashioned lesson.

Karmeier's recommended appointee, James Wexstten, would appear to have a lock on the primary -- having garnered nearly universal party support in the 37-county district.

But Southern Illinois' most powerful Democrats (a.k.a. the Machine) haven't quite embraced the "reform" movement ushered in by Karmeier's startling upset in 2004.

Wexstten's appointment, still begrudged by many Republicans, apparently was not an olive branch afterall.

The ambitious, cashed-up Cates, a crusader who fought and won battles for the Illinois Trial Lawyer's Association while serving as prez last year, is no doubt preparing for an all-out war.

In 2002, a non-presidential year, Wexstten was defeated in a three-way primary race. Winner Melissa Chapman of Madison County took 46.9 percent of the vote to Wexstten's 34.6 percent. Spoiler Patrick McCann eaked out 18.5 percent.

GOP un-glued

Pachyderm faithful who turned out at the Illinois State Fair chose pro-life presidential candidate and ex-Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney as fave with 40.35 percent in a straw poll vote. The rest:

Fred Thompson – 19.96%; Ron Paul – 18.87%; Rudy Giuliani – 11.61%; John McCain – 4.12%; Mike Huckabee – 3.04%; Sam Brownback – 1.08%; Duncan Hunter - 0.65%; Tom Tancredo - 0.33%.

However, a straw poll of 48 attending GOP county chairmen netted results which do not mirror the masses:

Thompson - 45.83%; Giuliani - 27.08%; Romney - 18.45%; Huckabee - 4.16%; McCain - 2.08; Tancredo - 2.08.

Moving out
One of the first court security officers hired under Chief Judge Ann Callis' reform movement is leaving the post and heading to the Madison County Sheriff's Department Patrol Division.

Stephanie Prange took an oath, administered by Associate Judge Janet Heflin, as a deputy sheriff on Aug. 6.

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