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ATRF Lists 'Judicial Hellholes'

Hellholes2006sm Just in time for the holidays, the American Tort Reform Foundation has released its picks of the courts you don't want on your forum-shopping list -- that is, if you are a lawyer who defends companies in civil litigation. The report, Judicial Hellholes 2006, claims to shine a spotlight on "America's worst jurisdictions in which to face a lawsuit." At a press conference yesterday, American Tort Reform Association President Sherman Joyce said:

"Judicial Hellholes are places where judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner, generally against defendants, in civil lawsuits."

The six worst courts, according to the report:

  1. West Virginia
  2. South Florida
  3. Rio Grande Valley and Gulf Coast of Texas
  4. Cook County, Ill.
  5. Madison County, Ill.
  6. St. Clair County, Ill.

The report also includes a "watch list" and "dishonorable mentions." But all is not dark for the defense bar. The report identifies several jurisdictions as "points of light," those "that have considerably improved civil justice, particularly when it comes to containing scandalous asbestos litigation." They are:

  • Illinois Supreme Court
  • California Appellate Court
  • Florida Legislature
  • Various state legislatures and courts
  • Oregon Trial Court

Of course, one man's hell is another man's heaven, to paraphrase the old saying. Not everyone sees damnation in the courts singled out by ATRF. The Center for Justice and Democracy, for one, called the report "vicious and undemocratic, not to mention dishonest and ungrounded." It released a fact sheet of its own, describing ATRA as representing "polluters, tobacco companies and the insurance industry, to name a few," and providing its counterpoints to ATRF's findings.

Perhaps the truth lies somewhere in the middle. As Harry S. Truman once said, "I never give them hell. I just tell the truth, and they think it's hell."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on December 14, 2006 at 05:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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