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April 25th, 2011

Ruling by Thin-Skinned Judge Furthers Madison County’s Reputation As a ‘Judicial Hellhole’

A thin-skinned Madison County judge has been baited by a crafty plaintiffs’ lawyer into ordering into evidence irrelevant but plaintiff-friendly “evidence” in an important Illinois environmental case, further cementing the rural county’s reputation among the least fair jurisdictions in the nation.

As reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Circuit court judge William A. Mudge ruled . . . that public relations documents attempting to portray the local courts as a ‘judicial hellhole’ needed to be handed over to the plaintiffs.”

Responding to the judge’s ruling, ATRA president Tiger Joyce said, “Judge Mudge is newly elected and came to the bench this year, indicating his determination to help combat Madison County’s longstanding reputation as a judicial hellhole.  One of his first highly visible acts, however, appears only to further cement that reputation.

“The fact that Madison County courts have been cited among the nation’s judicial hellholes has no bearing on the dispute in this case.  Judges are supposed to make their rulings based on the law and relevant facts of a case, not on six-year old public relations strategies,” Joyce continued, noting that the judge’s ruling grants plaintiffs access to an October 2005 public relations strategy document reportedly prepared for the defendants. 

“One wonders if the judge also plans to evaluate any and all public relations efforts by the plaintiffs’ lawyers to decide whether they should be admissible,” he added.

“In any case, it so happens that ATRA’s extensively documented and widely reported annual Judicial Hellholes report cited Madison County as the #1 Judicial Hellhole in 2004 and again as the #4 Judicial Hellhole in 2005, so no one really needed a public relations campaign to be aware of what was going on in the county’s courts then.

“Judge Mudge’s ruling yesterday now allows plaintiffs’ counsel to selectively pick and choose text from an irrelevant document and use it to distract jurors from the pertinent facts of the case. As for Madison County’s reputation as a place where defendants often have a hard time getting a fair shake, it is likely to persist as a result,” Joyce concluded.

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