Madison County Associate Judge Clarence Harrison has entered an order terminating the court's 2013 advance setting of asbestos trial weeks.
"The Court finds no continuing need for the pre-assignment of trial settings," Harrison wrote in the order filed Thursday.
On Monday, Harrison heard arguments from the defense and plaintiffs' bar on whether to keep as is or revise a preliminary order Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder entered on Dec. 1 setting nearly 500 trial slots.
Harrison's order is effective immediately.
He wrote that the standard jury trial week calendar will be used going forward, and that cases will be set by motion on a case-by-case basis.
"The court may group cases for efficiency," the order states. "All parties are counseled to have adequate staff available."
The elderly and dying will receive preference in trial settings, the order indicates.
Regarding jury service, the court will reserve requesting jurors until the Tuesday of trial weeks "in order to minimize the inconvenience of jury service," Harrison wrote in the order. "Counsel shall inform the Court regarding alternate request for jurors, bearing in mind that the jurors of Madison County have served less than one-half week during the entire first quarter."
Harrison indicated that pre-trial mediation will be available in all asbestos cases.
"The Presiding Asbestos Judge, as well as ancillary judges, will mediate cases on Friday afternoon and at other times as requested by the parties," he wrote. "In order to fully implement expedited mediation, all trial counsel shall be available no later than the first day of any trial week."
On jurisdiction, venue and forum issues, Harrison said these matters are properly addressed by individual motions to dismiss filed in an appropriate case.
"The Court will consider such matters in a timely fashion upon request based upon the specific facts of the case."