Madison County: Gordon Maag, the trial-lawyer-backed candidate who last month was defeated in a race for the Illinois Supreme Court in what is said to have been the most expensive judicial race in American history, has filed a $100 million defamation suit against an arm of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce for saying bad things about him during the recent campaign. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Edwardsville Intelligencer/Southern Illinoisan/Illinois Leader). Jim Copland comments at Point Of Law. For two other widely noted efforts by Madison County lawyers to silence or intimidate their critics, see Nov. 4 and Nov. 30, 1999 and Feb. 29, 2000 (class action lawyers sue Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan for making fun of them) and Jun. 9, Jul. 12, Jul. 26, 2003 (dragging national tort reform groups to court). For efforts to suppress the airing of ads affecting the Maag-Karmeier race, see Oct. 27. For other watch-what-you-say-about-lawyers cases, see Mar. 16 and Nov. 15, 2004, Nov. 30, 2003, and earlier posts; and Point of Law, Oct. 25 and Dec. 22, 2004.
Profile of a maverick attorney who after decades of fighting machine corruption and courthouse politics in Pennsylvania is now working for malpractice reform in the state: “[Bob] Surrick is upset about the silencing of the print media because of the fear of libel suits. He said that during the 18 years that Gene Roberts was the Philadelphia Inquirer’s executive editor, the newspaper won 17 Pulitzers, which was unheard of for a newspaper. But during the 1980s (while Roberts was still editor) Surrick said that the judges and justices started the business of suing their critics, particularly the print media critics, for libel, effectively silencing the Inquirer; after Roberts left, the newspaper no longer did investigative reporting on the judiciary. ‘If the media — the guardian of the truth about what is going on in government — does not tell you, who is going to tell you?’ Surrick asks.” (Eileen Laskas, “Whatever Happened to Bob Surrick?”, CountyPressOnline (Phila. suburbs), Jan. 28) (via Donna Rovito’s Liability Update Information Network). For more on the kinds of legal trouble you can get into by criticizing Pennsylvania judges, see Oct. 24-25, 2001.