Wednesday, December 13, 2006

For Immediate Release:
December 13, 2006
Contact: Joanne Doroshow or Laurie Beacham

Consumer Group Condemns Vicious Report Attacking Illinois Judges

Chicago, IL – The Center for Justice & Democracy (CJ&D) today called the American Tort Reform Association’s “Judicial Hellholes 2006” report attacking judges in several counties in Illinois, “vicious and undemocratic, not to mention dishonest and ungrounded.”  In its report released today, ATRA launches a ferocious attack on fair and independent judges based on the apparent views of its members that include polluters, tobacco companies, and the insurance industry, among other industries. 
The report comes weeks after ATRA and other national corporate front groups spent millions of dollars in attempts to influence judicial elections in Illinois only to have their candidates soundly rejected by the residents of the counties they attack.  “This report is out of touch with the public”, said Katina Cummings, Staff Director of CJ&D-IL. “Illinoisans do not want judges to have to look over their shoulder to calculate how their decisions might play with corporate-backed special interest groups like this.”  
Cummings added, “ATRA believes that rulings by judges that hold industries accountable are bad for Illinois, harming local economies, when, in fact, the opposite is true.  The counties in Illinois attacked by ATRA are strong and growing and one obvious reason is that these areas are not havens for corporate wrongdoing.”
The report specifically attacks Cook, Madison and St. Clair Counties.
Yet all three areas are experiencing incredible business and employment growth, with Chicago/Cook County as corporate America’s top metropolitan area for the corporate facility projects in the country.  St. Clair and Madison Counties are undergoing new development and construction projects, adding to their booming economy. Unemployment rates for all three counties decreased over the last year.  See: Backgrounder:  “Hellhole” Fiction; The Facts About the Illinois Economy, and Facts About ATRA’s So-Called “Judicial Hellholes”
The state of Illinois overall is enjoying positive economic growth. According to the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), Illinois has gained 77,300 new jobs this year, the best start to a year since 1999. Also, IDES announced last month that the Illinois unemployment rate for October tied the state’s lowest level on record, while remaining at or below the national rate for 6 consecutive months, the first time this has happened in seven years..
Joanne Doroshow, CJ&D’s Executive Director said, “With money and politics already dominating the executive and legislative branches, our court system is one of the only places left in America where injured citizens can successfully confront powerful industries and institutions and stop misconduct.  The last thing we need are bogus attacks from groups like ATRA that threaten judicial independence, a cornerstone of our democracy, for the sake of restricting legitimate lawsuits against corporate wrongdoers.” 

Join Our Fight!

The Center for Justice & Democracy is the only national consumer organization in the country exclusively dedicated to protecting our civil justice system. If you'd like more information, please contact us.

Connect with us