Weber says endorsements demonstrate integrity

Steve Gonzalez Oct. 31, 2006, 9:34am

Don Weber

Madison County Circuit Judge Don Weber touted a number of endorsements he has received over the years from Democratic and Republican leaders saying they demonstrate an accomplished public service record.

At a press conference Tuesday, Weber focused on letters of recommendation he received from key Madison County Democrats in 2001 when he was seeking the nomination for U.S. Attorney.

Among the key Democratic officeholders who endorsed Weber for State Sen. Bill Haine, former State Sen. Evelyn Bowles, former Madison County Board Chairman Rudy Papa, former Alton NAACP President Jayne Powell, Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian and the late Circuit Judge Jack DeLaurenti.

"When these Democrats wrote Senator Fitzgerald and recommended me for the position of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, they crossed the partisan line," Weber said. "They each did this because they knew me and felt I should be the chief law enforcement officer for southern Illinois."

Weber said the Democratic endorsements should put to rest any doubts about his honesty, integrity and commitment to justice raised by his opponent, attorney Hylla.

He also added he does not expect the same Democrats to publicly endorse him this time around in a partisan campaign.

"Their comments in 2001 speak louder than any campaign ads," Weber said.

He also released a summary of the ethics and background checks he has completed in recent years, including background checks conducted by Sen. Fitzgerald -- the Capital Litigation Trial Bar and fitness check -- and two background and fitness checks done in 2004 and 2005 by select committees appointed by the Illinois Supreme Court.

"When Justice Karmeier and I talked about my appointment as circuit judge, we discussed every aspect of being a judge, from the trial skills necessary, the experience, the maturity and the fitness to hold the office," Weber said.

At his press conference, Weber also talked about a 31-count libel lawsuit he filed against St. Clair County power broker Amiel Cueto in 1983.

Weber's opponent, attorney Dave Hylla, has called Weber's libel lawsuit "frivolous."

In that matter, the Illinois Supreme Court appointed an out of county judge to preside over the case which lasted 10 years, according to Weber.

"Former Judge Gordon Maag ended up dismissing the companion case after the impartial out of county judge was ready to take my case to trial," Weber said.

"The cases then went to the appellate court who ruled that Cueto's remarks were absolutely privileged, that is, the libelous statements made by Cueto in an attempt to derail my corruption investigation in Madison County were immune from a civil suit," he said.

"My case against Cueto was far from frivolous," Weber said.

Weber pointed out the irony that almost 10 years after Maag's ruling he filed a libel suit over campaign fliers.

"My struggle against official corruption, which included my 10-year long civil suit, helped pave the way for Cueto's ultimate conviction and sentence," Weber said.

"The Illinois Supreme Court had confidence I was the right person for the job, and I am asking the voters to allow me to continue as circuit judge to continue the reform, to provide the balance and fairness our broken court system needs and to always stand up for justice."

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