TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Monday, August 20, 2007

Madison County's Image Change

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports  that Ann Callis, the new Chief Judge of Madison County, Illiniois, has been working hard to change the jurisdiction's "judicial hellhole" image. 

"We were all painted with the same brush, which can be unfair," Ann Callis said. "But we had the label (of a judicial hellhole). We had it. So it was getting out from under it and doing things, real changes."

High atop Callis' agenda was a limitation on the substitution of judges in class action cases. State statute allows attorneys to swap a judge once per named party in a lawsuit — both on the plaintiff's side and the defense. But Callis said some plaintiffs attorneys in class action cases were engaged in "blatant forum shopping" — adding more named parties to rack up more judge change options.

In response, she and the other circuit judges adopted a rule treating the entire class as one party, effectively meaning that plaintiff's attorneys get only one change of judge per class action. Class action attorneys balked, and the prominent St. Louis firm Korein Tillery has challenged the rule as unconstitutional.

(Thanks to Overlawyered).


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