Asbestos trial lawyers like Judy Cates

By The Madison County Record | Jun 30, 2012

He who pays the piper calls the tune.

"A man is known by the company he keeps."

"He who pays the piper calls the tune."

"You get what you pay for."

We learn these adages as children, but don't fully understand them. As adolescents, we become distrustful of most received wisdom from adults. We prefer to think that it doesn't matter who someone's associates and benefactors are. We scoff at the suggestion that someone would want something in return for friendship or largesse.

Then, if we live long enough, we discover that these adages hold true. A person with unsavory associates should make us wary. A person doling out cash probably does expect something in return, and may very well get it.

As residents of a region with the regrettable reputation of a judicial hellhole, we should reflect on these adages during judicial elections.

Who are the would-be judge's friends and allies? How extensive is their financial support? How do these supporters expect to benefit from the election of their candidate?

We wouldn't be a judicial hellhole, if not for judges who tolerate -- and thereby encourage -- the filing of abusive lawsuits in our local courts.

A lot of those judges – not surprisingly – started out as trial attorneys working for the firms and representing the interests now pressing their dubious cases before them. Some of those judges will eventually leave the bench and go back to working for those firms and representing those interests.

Judy Cates, for instance, the Swansea attorney who's a past president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association and who's now running for a seat on the 5th District Appellate Court, raised $55,000 in the quarter now concluding. That's a lot of money. Most of that money came from a handful of Chicago lawyers and law firms outside the 5th District.

Her largest donation came from a California firm.

Apply the adages and draw your own conclusions.

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