The verdict is in and Cook County is officially one of the worst local jurisdictions in the country for legal fairness, according to the newly released “Judicial Hellholes” report from the American Tort Reform Foundation (ATRF).
ATRF defines a “judicial hellhole” as “a place where judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner.” According to the 2012 report, Cook County was placed on the “Judicial Hellholes Watch List,” which ATRF describes as “jurisdictions that bear watching due to their histories of abusive litigation” and run the risk of “dropping into the hellholes abyss.”
This new black eye for Cook County comes on the heels of another report, released in September by the Harris Interactive Research Company, which ranked Cook County courts the most unfair and unreasonable in the country.
Cook County’s status as one of the country’s worst ‘judicial hellholes’ makes it difficult to attract jobs and opportunities to Chicagoland, because businesses look to move to places where the legal system is fair, and having the nation’s most unfair lawsuit climate in the country is clearly keeping businesses and the jobs they bring from moving to Cook County.
Judges here need to take steps to restore fairness and common sense to our courts so we can begin to create jobs, not lawsuits. According to the study, Creating Conditions for Economic Growth: The Role of the Legal Environment, NERA Economic Consulting released in 2011 for the Institute for Legal Reform, Illinois could save up to $2.4 billion in tort costs and create between 54,000 and 147,000 new jobs by improving its legal environment.
Improving the legal climate throughout Illinois is not a magic bullet but it is a place to start. By swamping Cook County courts with cases that have little to nothing to do with the Chicagoland region, personal injury lawyers have put a lump of coal in all Cook County residents’ stockings this holiday season. The ability to attract new jobs and opportunities to the Cook County region will only continue to become more difficult until judges here work to restore fairness and common sense to our courts.