1-30-12; Keep on, Keeping on Dwight Kay—thoughts on stopping/ending our “Plaintiff-attorney-paid-for” judiciary

Last week, State Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, and State Rep. Paul Evans, R-O'Fallon, filed legislation to require the Illinois Supreme Court to adopt rules requiring judges/justices who receive more than $500 from an attorney or attorney's firm to recuse themselves from that particular case. The legislation also requires attorneys who appear before a judge or justice to disclose all contributions made to the judge/justice by an attorney or attorney's firm.

We are thrilled to hear someone is finally noticing how ostensibly corrupt this is. In our view, every current indication is justice is openly and legally for sale in Illinois and the major buyers are the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association. We suggest adding the same requirement for WC Arbitrators/Commissioner and any other Illinois administrative hearing officers who are running for judicial office. If monies are donated to them, it should be openly disclosed.

We also caution one way around this legislation is to have an attorney donate, for example, $10K to the local or state Democratic party but earmark the money to be relayed to the specific judicial campaign. Another way around this is to host parties or fundraisers to get $499 from fifty lawyers and all of them combine to a pool to donate the money to a soon-to-be-friendly judge or justice. We feel the attorney(s) who host the fundraiser for a judge or justice to raise $25,000 should have to similarly recuse themselves.