Spicy courtroom exchange ensues between plaintiff prisoner and defendant attorney

Steve Korris Sep. 29, 2005, 4:47am

Circuit Judge George Moran

Madison County Circuit Judge George Moran's swift handling of 116 cases one recent morning was punctuated by a strange last matter, Wiley Yates v. Thomas Hildebrand, in which the imprisoned plaintiff claims he received a longer sentence because of a lawyer's malice.

“That’s what comes from giving prisoners law books and pencils,” said the defendant, Granite City attorney Thomas Hildebrand, after the hearing was over and the handcuffed inmate was escorted from the courtroom.

Yates, serving an 18-year sentence for the rape and attempted murder of his girlfriend, is accusing Hildebrand of fraudulent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment and fraudulent inducement.

In the lawsuit Yates filed against Hildebrand on Jan. 31, he claims that because of his mental problems and lack of knowledge of law, Hildebrand owed him a special duty to ensure he was treated fairly.

Yates contends Hildebrand believed he was “too stupid” to object to what was done to him.

As two correctional officers watched him from the gallery, Yates, clad in a pale blue prison shirt, pleaded his case pro se. The hearing was held Sept. 28.

Yates said Hildebrand changed a statement he gave to police and jumped into his case and represented the woman.

“Nothing I did put him where he is today,” Hildebrand said after moving to dismiss.

A spicy exchange between the shackled prisoner--whose hands moved as forcefully as his handcuffs would permit--and lawyer ensued, as Judge Moran served as moderator.

Law 101

Addressing Yates, Moran asked: “He did things to you to cause you to get 18 years?”

"Yes," said Yates.

Moran: “Did you enter a negotiated plea?”

Yates: “I didn’t have any choice.”

Moran asked Hildebrand if he helped negotiate the plea.

Hildebrand: “No. He tried to kill the person I represented.”

Yates: “He was in the middle of the negotiations.”

Hildebrand: “I had nothing to do with the attempted murder case.”

Moran asked Yates how Hildebrand caused him to be charged.

Yates: “I claim my innocence of this crime.”

Moran asked how many men in his prison claimed innocence.

Yates said he did not know. He said he concentrated on his own case. He said that Hildebrand showed the woman his presentence report.

Yates: “That caused her to come after me. He maliciously sent her after me.”

Moran: “The state’s attorney charged you, and you pleaded?”

Yates: “To armed violence.”

Hildebrand: “Attempted murder.”

Yates said: “Armed violence.”

Hildebrand: “Then they amended the charge.”

Yates said Hildebrand violated something else. “I think the word is fiduciary.”

Hildebrand said: “Fiduciary! I’ve never seen any money from him.”

Hildebrand brought up other crimes.

Yates protested.

Moran said to Yates: “If you sue him, he does not have to say you are a nice person.”

Yates asked Moran to accept several folders of documents. Moran said he would, but Hildebrand said they went beyond the scope of the hearing. Moran agreed.

Moran: “Anything else?”

Yates: "No."

Hildebrand: “Nothing, for the good of the organization.”

Moran gave Yates 14 days to file a memorandum of law.

“Things went very smoothly, more smoothly than I expected,” Moran said at the close of the case.

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