Illinois Civil Justice League: Judge Moran Recuses Himself

December 23, 2004

Judge Moran Recuses Himself

Judge Moran recused himself (see News-Democrat, AP story) from the $110 Million Maag Defamation Case yesterday, a move that could be repeated by other Madison County Circuit judges (see Madison County Record analysis) over the next few weeks.

Among the editorials from local newspapers analyzing the merits/motives of the suit, the Belleville News-Democrat weighed in with its opinion:

The irony of this lawsuit is too rich. The Supreme Court race basically was a referendum on our skewed civil court system and the need for tort reform. So what does Maag do? He turns around and files this over-the-top lawsuit. He filed it in -- where else? -- Madison County, the No. 1 judicial hellhole in the nation.

Meanwhile, the Southern Illinoisan has given Maag its "Thumbs Down" today, noting:

While it is certainly within Maag's rights to file a lawsuit, the outrageous sum of money he is seeking and the overall indication would seem that Maag is simply a sore loser.

Finally, Godfrey trial lawyer Evan Schaeffer paints a more optimistic view for Maag's suit, stating:

Whether or not you agree with Judge Maag's decision to sue, it's not hard to see why he was upset about the flier: it's false from start to finish, and makes Maag out to be complete scum--a monster, in fact. It certainly must give him a bad feeling to know his long and distinguished career on the bench ended like this, with his reputation in tatters.

In an effort of full disclosure, I should state that ICJL, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the Southern Illinoisan all endorsed Maag's opponent, Justice Karmeier. Schaeffer, as he states in his post, supported Maag.

While I agree with Schaeffer's analysis that "it's not hard to see why (Maag) was upset about the flier," I would simply point out that the Maag campaign was the first to "go negative" in the Supreme Court race (specifically, on or around October 15th and two days prior to the first Anti-Maag negative spot). In fact, Maag made negative comments about Judge Karmeier's experience from almost Day One. Both sides aired "negative" commercials for more than two weeks at the end of the campiagn, and the ads painted both Maag AND Karmeier as "soft" on crime.

I've studied the charges that Maag's campaign made against Judge Karmeier, and I could easily see how Justice Karmeier and his family could have been "upset" by Maag's ads. Specifically, Judge Karmeier was assailed for letting a criminal go who raped and sodomized three children, however the defendant in that case was never tried before Judge Karmeier for those crimes (they had been dropped before trial in a plea between now-Circuit Judge John Baricevic and now-Appellate Judge Clyde Keuhn).

However, the beauty (and it's not always pretty) of our American democratic system of electing public officials, is that these claims can be fairly asserted and debated within the public domain, and then voters can choose who to believe and/or trust. You simply don't see President Bush or Senator Kerry hopping into Madison County to sue Dan Rather or the Swiftees?

Maag's defeat, while anecdotally attributable to thousands of different things, is rooted in his (heavy) support from the local, state and national plaintiffs bar. The financial support for his campaign provides nearly 5 million (dollars worth of) reasons why the voters rejected him. The failure of DPI Chairman Mike Madigan ($2.5M) to resolve our medical malpractice crisis, the aggressiveness of the class-action leader Lakin Firm ($280k) and the asbestos leader SimmonsCooper firm ($1.1M) all made voters wary of Judge Maag.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial (Oct. 17, can't find a link) summed the Maag campaign very simply: "Judge Maag, by contrast, has his roots in the same sleazy, back-scratching, money-grubbing politics that made the Madison County mess." This is the issue upon which voters rejected Gordon Maag.


Blogger Amy Allen said...

I absolutely concur, sir. Very apt post.

10:20 AM  

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