Madison - St. Clair Record

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

The Big Bad Lopinot gets blowback

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By The Madison County Record | Nov 30, 2015

They don't teach nursery rhymes and fairy tales in law school, but maybe they should.

1L students might benefit from memorizing “Old McDonald Had a Forum” (with a non conveniens here and a non conveniens there) or from analyzing the demonstrably sound reasons for the Three Little Pigs' double change of venue.

The vagaries of venue validity could be explained to them at a kindergarten level, such as whether a lawsuit against a pig farm should be heard in the county where the pigs reside or in a county unconnected to the case that happens to have a jurist known to be partial to one of the parties involved (or their counsel).

You don't even need to go to law school to know that such a case belongs in the former forum, but it helps to be from southern Illinois to know it will probably wind up in the latter – unless and until overruled by a higher court.

That's what happened to St. Clair County Circuit Judge Vincent Lopinot. He got overruled, and rightly so.

Judge Lopinot refused to rule that Macoupin County residents suing a Macoupin County pig farm in St. Clair County Court is not the appropriate forum for Macoupin County residents to sue Macoupin County pig farms, and that St. Clair County Court is the proper forum for St. Clair County residents to sue St. Clair County pig farms, and that Macoupin County Court is the best venue for Macoupin County residents making claims against Macoupin County pig farms.

Had he done so, all might have marveled at his Solomonic wisdom.

Instead, Fifth District appellate judges first had to remand the case back to Lopinot for an explanation of his bizarre jurisdictional decision. When he huffed and puffed and his explanation didn't satisfy, they overturned the big blowhard.

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