EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A judge says she’ll return $30,000 in campaign donations that caused her to be removed from her assignment hearing all of the asbestos cases in her southwestern Illinois county. Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder denies there’s any link between the contributions made by asbestos law firms and her decisions as the asbestos judge.

But the Belleville News-Democrat reports that Crowder acknowledged in a statement Wednesday that the “unfortunate timing could provoke some to suspect that something inappropriate had occurred.” Crowder was relieved of the asbestos cases Tuesday, and her cases were given to Associate Judge Clarence Harrison.

The county’s chief judge, Ann Callis, says she transferred the cases away from Crowder, in consultation with circuit judges, “to maintain the public trust in a fair and unbiased judiciary.”

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)



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