Madison - St. Clair Record

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Judges have to be impartial

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By The Madison County Record | Aug 2, 2016

It's the lawyer pool. That's where most judges come from. Plaintiffs attorneys and defense attorneys ascend to the bench and are expected not to take sides any longer.

Some rise to the occasion. Some don't.

The Third Judicial Circuit judges who appointed Donald Flack to the bench in 2012 apparently thought he was qualified at the time, but they may have changed their minds because they declined to reappoint him in 2015.

 After being rejected for reappointment, Flack reapplied and then was accepted.


Why the back and forth? What were the concerns?

As reported this week by The Record, Flack has an extensive background in asbestos litigation, financial stakes in cases still pending, close ties and business partnerships with attorneys who appear before him in court, and a wife and son currently or formerly employed by local law firms. He has obvious conflicts of interest.

Flack formed litigation relationships with two national asbestos firms after assuming his judgeship. The statement of economic interests he filed with the Illinois Supreme Court in 2013 disclosed relationships with Baron and Budd of Houston and Simon, Eddins and Greenstone of Long Beach, Calif.

He did not disclose those relationships on the first statement he filed in 2012, the year of his appointment to the bench.

All his statements have disclosed relationships with Thomas Q. Keefe Jr. of Belleville, David R. Jones of Edwardsville, Christopher Donohoo of East Alton, and the Perica law firm of Wood River, as well as an interest in “asbestos cases filed by Flack law office or Perica law firm before 5/25/12,” his first day as judge.

At least 30 of his cases remain active in Madison County, including three he filed after the announcement of his appointment as associate judge.

His statements also disclosed litigation interests beyond asbestos, at least two of which remain active.

All of this would be highly disconcerting to any defendant in Flack’s courtroom.

How many conflicts does he have to have to be disqualified as a judge?

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