While Madison County's huge asbestos docket shifted from one judge to another in the glare of publicity, St. Clair County's growing asbestos docket shifted from one judge to another by routine rotation.
On Jan. 1, St. Clair County Associate Judge Vince Lopinot took charge of asbestos suits and hundreds of other actions that had belonged to Associate Judge Andrew Gleeson.
Chief Judge John Baricevic rotated Gleeson to satellite courts in East St. Louis and Fairview Heights.
On the surface it looked like a demotion for Gleeson, who presided over many important cases that would normally belong to circuit judges.
Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder endured such a demotion last month, after her retention campaign received $30,000 from asbestos lawyers.
Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis assigned the asbestos docket to Associate Judge Clarence Harrison
Gleeson lost his docket for a different reason.
Circuit judges in St. Clair County keep their cases year after year, but associate judges rotate each year from courtroom to courtroom or from building to building.
This year's rotation greatly expands the power of Lopinot, formerly a traffic judge.
Gleeson and Lopinot seek election as circuit judges in November's general election.