JULY 17, 2012
Latest Campaign Finance Report Shows Huge Sums Of Personal Injury Lawyer Money Continues To Flow Into Judy Cates' Campaign For Fifth District Appellate Court
I-LAW says voters will question whether Cates can stand up to her fellow personal injury lawyers who have helped turn the Metro-East into a nationally-ranked "Judicial Hellhole".
(Marion, IL) - Newly released campaign finance reports show Judy Cates, the Democratic nominee for an open seat on the 5th District Appellate Court and past president of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from her fellow personal injury lawyers in just the past three months, prompting questions about her willingness to help the Metro-East shed its reputation as a job-killing "Judicial Hellhole" if elected.
Cates reported raising almost $64,000 in the last quarter, and most of those contributions came from personal injury lawyers in Chicago. She also received a whopping $10,000 contribution from a personal injury lawyer firm from California.
Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch (I-LAW), a grassroots, legal watchdog group, says personal injury lawyers from outside the Metro-East who often flock to the Metro-East to file their lawsuits due to the area's plaintiff-friendly tilt, are spending big money to ensure one of their own sits on the critically-important 5th District Appellate Court.
"For many years, personal injury lawyers from Chicago and across the country have turned Metro-East courts into their own highly-profitable plaintiff-friendly playground," explained Travis Akin, executive director of I-LAW. "Now many of those same personal injury lawyers, most of who aren't even from here, are spending huge sums to elect a fellow personal injury lawyer to our appellate court."
Akin continued, "Why would a California law firm care about who serves on the 5th District Appellate Court in Illinois? The answer is simple. Personal injury firms in California and across the country have a vested interest in what happens in our Metro-East courts because they flock to these courts to file their junk lawsuits."
Madison and St. Clair Counties are collectively ranked the fifth-worst "Judicial Hellholes" in the country in a recent survey. Akin added, "Having a fellow personal injury lawyer sitting on the 5th District Appellate Court would certainly seem to help ensure that many of the plaintiff-friendly decisions made at the trial court level in Madison and St. Clair counties would stand."
Akin also explained, "Having a reputation as a 'personal injury lawyer's paradise' and being ranked as one of the nation's worst 'Judicial Hellholes' is not just embarrassing, it's also killing job growth efforts in the Metro-East. Thus, the stakes in this otherwise obscure judicial raise are huge.
"Tens of thousands of dollars from personal injury law firms are already pouring into Judy Cates' campaign war chest, and more money is soon to follow as Election Day gets closer. These personal injury lawyer firms have every right to make these contributions, but voters also have the right to look at the campaign disclosure information and see who is funding the various judicial campaigns and then render a verdict on Election Day.
"Judges wield extraordinary and largely unchallenged power. Good judges strive to wield this power wisely, which is why we as citizens need to pay attention to the individuals seeking a judicial position.
"Voters should ask the candidates in the 5th District Appellate race if they're satisfied with the status quo and being ranked one of the worst "Judicial Hellholes" in the county or if they will work to bring common sense lawsuit reforms and badly needed fairness to Metro-East courts."
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