Candidate Mark Rabe says his experience offers diversity to the bench; Rabe: 'Green wave' ensured 'continuous string of Democratic officials'

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Oct 31, 2018

Madison County Circuit Judge David Dugan, Rabe, and Appellate Justice Welch  

Madison County circuit judge candidate Mark Rabe said his experience as an attorney for Boeing offers a “different level of diversity” to a court dominated by Democratic judges and driven by a “green wave” of funding by the plaintiffs bar. 

Rabe is running on the Republican ticket for the vacancy created by Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder’s retirement later this year. 

Since forming a campaign committee on Sept. 12, Friends for Rabe ’18 has received at least $6,600. 

Rabe received $1,000 contributions from Pamela Carter, Patrick Finneran and Volunteers for Shimkus. He also received $1,500 from the Madison County Republican Central Committee. 

Rabe’s opponent, Madison County Associate Judge Sarah Smith, has received a total of at least $196,878 since she formed her campaign committee in July 2017. 

Much of Smith’s campaign contributions have come from the plaintiffs bar. 

Rabe said Madison County is seeing a “green wave” of Democratic campaigns being funded by the plaintiffs bar.

“I think that green wave has driven Madison County politics for a very long time,” Rabe said.

As a result, “plaintiffs’ firms’ money has ensured a continuous string of Democratic officials,” he added. 

Rabe said that because he comes from a different litigation background, he would offer a “completely different level of diversity” if elected to the bench.

“Diversity of background, diversity of experience and diversity of thought,” he said. 

Rabe said that most Democratic candidates tend to have the same background and the same mindset, which would mean more of the same for Madison County. 

“I don’t think anybody can match my legal experience in its breadth of things that I have done,” he said.

Rabe briefly worked for Bryan Cave and Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal after graduating from Harvard Law School. He then worked as an in-house attorney for McDonnel Douglas, which was later bought by Boeing. 

Rabe’s experience with Boeing included working on the Emerson Electric raids and working as the discovery officer on the A-12 lawsuit – the largest lawsuit to ever be brought against the United States in the US Court of Federal Claims, he said. 

In addition to litigation experience, Rabe has experience as both the plaintiff and the defendant. He explained that as an in-house lawyer for Boeing, he often hired local counsel.

"But there was a lawyer pulling those hired lawyers’ strings,” he said.

“I’m the disruptive force,” he added. “They see me as the spider behind the door because I was always the client.”

Because Madison County had an “undisputed,” “pro-plaintiff perspective for decades,” Rabe said the court still has a lot to overcome if it is to shed its reputation as a Judicial hellhole. 

He said people have pointed out that the number of defense verdicts in Madison County in the last decade is partly the result of a change in demographics. 

Despite Madison County’s reputation, Rabe said that jurisdiction issues will change as the Fifth District Appellate Court addresses more cases raising those concerns. 

“I’m cautiously optimistic that jurisdiction issues will be different in the future than they have in the past,” he said. 

He added that some parties will be content to litigate their cases in Madison County, and others will make jurisdiction claims to have cases moved to other courts.

“I don’t think jurisdiction is necessarily something you can predict on a blanket basis,” he said. 

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