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Not Blackwells' List - 13 Judicial Hellholes

The American Tort Reform Association has labeled our own Los Angeles County Court system a judicial hellhole.

Yes, it's absolutely true. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. In fact, we're one of 13 hellholes in the country, and several others that qualified for "dishonorable mention." You can download the entire report here if you don't believe me.

Never fear, though, several communities have been highlighted as "points of light."

The ATRA is upset at million and billion dollar verdits, and they've created this "Hellhole" report to identify those jurisdictions that have crossed the River of Styx. Most defendants, too, get upset with verdicts like that.

The group defines the phenomenon: "Judicial hellholes" are cities, counties, or judicial districts that attract lawsuits from around the nation or the region because they are correctly perceived as very plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions. They are places where the law is not applied evenhandedly to all litigants. In these areas, there is a systematic bias against defendants, particularly those located outside of the state.

They even quote one judicial author (West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Richard Neeley) who said, "As long as I am allowed to redistribute wealth from out-of-state companies to injured in-state plaintiffs, I shall continue to do so. Not only is my sleep enhanced when I give someone's else money away, but so is my job security, because the in-state plaintiffs, their families, and their friends will reelect me .... It should be obvious that the instate local plaintiff, his witnesses and his friends, can all vote for the judge, while the out-of-state defendants can't even be relied upon to send a campaign donation."


Next time I go to Court in Los Angeles, I'll be looking for judges in bright red robes in the red devil lounge. Then I'll know which courtrooms to stay away from.

Posted by J. Craig Williams on Saturday, November 29, 2003

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