Dec 24 2011
An Illinois judge is being scrutinized for her acceptance of campaign contributions from three law firms shortly after assigning them favorable trial dates in the asbestos case calendar. As The Telegraph reports, Judge Barbara Crowder was removed from presiding over those cases after news of the donations became public, and now Madison County Board Chair Alan Dunstan has requested that the Judicial Inquiry Board investigate:
Importantly, the acceptance of certain campaign contributions creates a perception of conflict and negatively impacts the image of Madison County, the courts and of Judge Crowder. . . . As Madison County Board chairman, I appreciate the quick action of Chief Judge Ann Callis and the other judges in the Third Judicial Circuit to remove Judge Crowder from her former docket. However, despite that action, I believe the judicial review I have requested is warranted.
Judge Crowder maintains that there is no connection between her scheduling order and the contributions and has announced that she will return the campaign contributions.
This incident, however it is resolved, highlights a major problem with electing judges — elections require judicial campaigns to raise money from the people and organizations most likely to later appear before those judges in court. This, in turn, fosters the public perception that “justice is for sale.” The best way to solve the problem: get judges out of the fundraising business.
Tags: Alan Dunston, Illinois, Judge Barbara Crowder, judicial elections, Madison County, Telegraph