WASHINGTON, D.C., June 25, 2003 — The United States Chamber of Commerce today filed a motion in Madison County, Illinois, to quash subpoenas served on U.S. Chamber President Thomas J. Donohue and three others following a June 5 news conference highlighting lawsuit abuse in the Madison County court system and the need for reform.
“The court system should not allow itself to be used by self-serving attorneys more interested in protecting their gravy train than upholding the U.S. Constitution,” said Donohue. “There is no better example of the problems in the Madison County court system than lawyers abusing the law to put their own self-interest ahead of the cause of justice.”
In addition to asking that the subpoenas be quashed, the Chamber is asking the court to sanction the filing attorney for a “bad faith attempt” to stifle constitutionally protected speech and association. The Chamber also is asking for legal fees.
The subpoenas were served personally by Madison County plaintiffs’ attorney Bradley Lakin, who seeks to force Donohue and the others to return to Madison County to give depositions in a class action lawsuit Lakin is pursuing against the Ford Motor Company over defective paint.
“Neither Mr. Donohue nor the Chamber are parties to the Ford case, nor do they have any conceivable connection to this lawsuit,” the Chamber motion states. “Such efforts to co-opt the judicial process as a tool of censorship simply cannot be tolerated and the subpoena must therefore be questioned.
“Based on the undisputed facts, plaintiffs’ attorneys served these subpoenas in a blatant attempt to intimidate, harass and curtail the free speech rights of Mr. Donohue and the other speakers on an issue of public concern,” according to the Chamber’s motion.