Instead of just talking about the weather, Don Weber of Troy plans to do something about it.
A candidate for state representative in the Republican primary in the 108th House District, Weber, if elected, will propose legislation to improve the climate in the Madison County courthouse – and make it less inclement for defendants in asbestos lawsuits.
For instance, Weber thinks Madison County judges should be required to follow rules that apply to most other Illinois justices and disclose to non-settling defendants before trial how much an asbestos plaintiff already has been paid by other defendants.
"While such disclosures are common in nearly every other county," he notes, "the Madison County judges, with the help of plaintiffs' attorneys who generally have contributed generously to a judge's campaign war chest, have written their own unfair rules for asbestos cases."
Weber would also introduce legislation to clarify admissibility rules for evidence in mesothelioma cases and remove the prohibition against defendants in Madison County demonstrating that another party is mainly responsible for plaintiff injuries.
"This prohibition is contrary to Illinois law," he said, "but is accomplished by rules relating to discovery and local third-party practice rules adopted by the judges after the plaintiffs lawyers approved."
Weber's is not the only voice of reason in Madison County, and we could certainly use more. If other candidates for public office, current officeholders, and private citizens would speak to this issue, support Weber's proposals, and offer some of their own, we'd have a good chance of enacting genuine reforms.
There's no denying that something must be done to re-balance the scales of justice in our community. The reputation we've acquired nationally is a black cloud that hangs over all of us.
Unlike the weather, though, the climate in our courthouse is something we can change. When enough of us decide that we want to do something about it, it'll get done.