Out-of-state lawyers, go away

November 21, 2013 

A new judge has taken over the Madison County asbestos docket. Stephen Stobbs is the fourth judge in three years to preside over the asbestos docket.

Associate Judge Clarence Harrison handled the docket during the last two years after taking over for Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder, who was reassigned when it was learned that she had accepted $30,000 in campaign contributions from three local law firms -- just days after she granted those same firms 82 percent of the trial slots for 2013. Now the torch has been handed to Stobbs.

Within weeks of taking over the asbestos docket, Harrison ended the controversial trial reservation policy. Despite this reform, Madison County set a record of 1,573 case filings in the asbestos docket last year and is on pace to break last year's record again this year.

The door may have been unwittingly opened for even more lawyers to file more lawsuits in Madison County. What is needed is for judges in Madison County to take a stand for common sense and fairness and prevent out-of-state lawyers from making Madison County a destination for their junk lawsuits.

When metro-east judges import out-of-state lawsuits, they export jobs from our area. Stobbs can either move the county in the direction of reform, shedding the county's reputation as the Lawsuit Capital of the Midwest, or he can preserve the status quo.

Hopefully, Stobbs and his fellow judges will act to restore common sense to our courts and reform this destination docket.

Travis Akin

Executive Director, Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch Marion

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