The American Tort Reform Association today released its third annual Judicial Hellholes report — ATRA’s report on the worst court systems in the United States where “‘Equal Justice Under Law’ does not exist.”
Here is the press release from ATRA. The highlights, including the top nine worst areas (seven counties and two regions — all of West Virginia and all of South Florida) and a salute to Mississippi for its tremendous and far-reaching tort reforms are on this page. The full report is in PDF format here.
But there may yet be hope:
In Palm Beach County (which is in South Florida, the #7 hellhole on the ATRA list) a change in presiding judge has resulted in a 20% decrease in asbestos cases, according to the Palm Beach Post. Why? Because “Circuit Judge Timothy McCarthy, who presides over the court’s asbestos division, began questioning why thousands of claims were showing up in South Florida, even though they had no local connection.”
On a personal note: The Monk has practiced before one of the court systems on ATRA’s list — Jefferson County, Texas. The county seat is Beaumont, a dumpy town in the industrial belt about 80-90 miles east of Houston that is home to famous plaintiffs’ firms Reaud Morgan & Quinn and Provost Umphrey. The courts there are famous for high jury awards, railroading out-of-town lawyers, and hammering large corporations. I’ve appeared in front of the worst judge of the bunch. This is how two of the 16 plaintiffs’ law firms in the United States with revenues over $50,000,000 (as listed by the Litigation 2004 supplement to American Lawyer magazine) make their cash in one of the poorest parts of Texas. If you click that link, note that 6 of the 16 highest grossing plaintiffs’ firms are in Texas.