State regulators of lawyers seek to discipline Ron Duebbert of Belleville for a statement he circulated in his unsuccessful campaign against current circuit judge Vincent Lopinot last year.
The Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission issued a complaint against Duebbert on Nov. 8, charging him with “conduct which tends to defeat the administration of justice or to bring the courts or the legal profession into disrepute.”
The complaint alleges that a letter size mailer from Duebbert falsely accused Lopinot of negligence as a public defender for murder suspect Rodney Woidtke in 1989.
“Judge Lopinot had no involvement in the Woidtke case in 1989,” commission attorney Gary Rapaport wrote.
Rapaport cited no authority for that statement.
Woidtke, who spent 13 years in prison for the murder of newspaper intern Audrey Cardenas, sued Lopinot and public defender Brian Trentman after winning a new trial in 2001.
Woidtke alleged that Lopinot supervised and assisted Trentman.
No court proved or disproved Woidtke’s allegation, because the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a statute of limitations had run out on his suit.
Rapaport wrote, “In the appellate opinion to which Respondent’s mailer referred, the Seventh Circuit merely summarized Woidtke’s allegations.
“Respondent knew that his citation gave the appearance, falsely, that a court decision had found Judge Lopinot to be negligent in the Woidtke case.
“Respondent designed and wrote the contents of the mailer, or he approved its design and contents.”
“Respondent caused between 75,000 and 100,000 copies of the mailer to be circulated and also caused it to be printed in newspapers as a campaign ad.”
The complaint against Duebbert also states that he violated rules of professional conduct by making a statement he knew to be false or with reckless disregard as to its truth.
Rapaport wrote that Duebbert “knowingly misrepresented the identity, qualifications, present position or other fact concerning an opponent.”
He wrote that Duebbert’s conduct involved dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.
Commission administrator Jerome Larkin submitted the complaint and requested its assignment to a panel for a hearing.
Duebbert must answer by Dec. 5.