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January 19th, 2012

Madison County Judge Removed from Asbestos Docket

Just before the latest Judicial Hellholes® report was released last December 15, Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder was barred by Chief Judge Ann Callis from presiding over the the nation’s largest asbestos docket in the wake of a campaign contributions scandal.  

As reported by the Belleville News Democrat, “Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan has asked the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board to investigate whether Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder committed misconduct when she accepted contributions from asbestos firms while she was the asbestos judge.”

Those contributions were reportedly received by Judge Crowder’s campaign just day’s before she doled out future asbestos trial slots to contributing plaintiffs’ law firms — before said law firms even had specified clients to fill those trial slots!

Responding to a St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, in which a plaintiffs’ lawyer said the contributions to the judge’s campaign “looked bad”  but were not, American Tort Reform Association director of communications Darren McKinney fired off a letter to the editor.

“By refusing to entertain cases that have no business being filed in the county to begin with, judges could immediately begin to shrink dramatically the county’s absurdly outsized asbestos docket,” McKinney wrote.  “As my organization’s latest Judicial Hellholes report documents, only “about 1 in 10 of Madison County’s asbestos cases (is) filed by people who actually live or work there, or have any other connection to the area….”

“Madison County taxpayers are footing the bill for court resources exploited by out-of-county litigants. The unemployed and underemployed suffer because of the notorious anti-business reputation that runaway litigation has earned for the county.”

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