Madison County judge without a docket

In Madison County, Illinois, all of the circuit judges have been elected to the bench with the significant help of the plaintiffs’ bar, often going straight from a career at a plaintiffs’ firm (and then later retiring to a plaintiffs’ firm). Except one: Judge Don Weber was appointed to replace a retired judge in October 2005, and won’t stand for election until November.

Illinois law permits a party to move once as a matter of right for substitution of a different judge, and plaintiffs in at least thirty-five cases have done so in Weber’s case. “All the stars of the plaintiff’s bar – the Lakin Law Firm, SimmonsCooper, Stephen Tillery and Rex Carr – have joined the substitution blitz.” The Madison County Record quotes Jack Joseph of Chicago, a member of the civil practice committee of the Chicago Bar Association, as finding the practice “unfair to Judge Weber without giving him a chance to see if he is going to violate his oath in some way.” (Steve Korris, “Weber’s caseload yanked by plaintiff’s attorneys”, Jan. 25). But one might be suspicious that the true fear motivating the motions to substitute other judges is that Weber will uphold his oath.

Update: Belleville News-Democrat counts 53 plaintiffs and two defendants who’ve asked for substitution.

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