The American Tort Reform Association’s annual “Judicial Hellholes” report had some surprising news for McLean County this year.
For the first time ever, McLean County was named in the report as a jurisdiction to watch. For more information on the report, go to the Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch website.
“Judicial hellholes” generally are defined as “places where judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner, generally against defendants in civil lawsuits.”
The main reason McLean County was cited in the report was primarily due to Judge Paul Lawrence’s decision to compel the president of the Illinois Manufacturers Association to testify in a case that had nothing to do with the association and another case in which Lawrence and another local judge forced one company to appear as a defendant in two different trials at the same time.
Companies look to locate or expand their existing business enterprises in places where the legal climate is fair. Being named in the annual “Judicial Hellholes” report is not welcome news for McLean County.
Area residents should pay attention to this report and put pressure on local officials to make sure McLean County does not become a “lawsuit tourism” destination. At a time when jobs are at a premium, McLean County can ill afford to become a “judicial hellhole.”
Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch will be watching to see if improvements in the McLean County courts are being made or if the jurisdiction continues to sink lower into “hellhole” status.
Travis Akin, Marion
The writer is executive director, Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch.