Rudolf closes Lakin's avenues of appeal in summary judgment order

By The Madison County Record | May 7, 2014

St. Clair County Associate Judge Heinz Rudolf closed two avenues of appeal from his decision that former lawyer Tom Lakin can’t deny he committed sex crimes with a 15 year old boy.

In an April 30 order that followed an oral decision of March 25, Rudolf denied Lakin’s request to certify the decision as a question of law for appellate review.

To grant the request, Rudolf would have needed to find that immediate appeal might advance the ultimate determination of the litigation.

Lakin also failed to persuade Rudolf to treat the decision as a special one requiring an exception to a general rule against appeals in the middle of litigation.

Exceptions require express findings, and Rudolf wrote that he wouldn’t make any.

Lakin and son Kristopher face civil claims of abuse from a family that identifies itself in court records as the Does.

Rudolf ruled at the hearing that Lakin admitted guilt in criminal proceedings which resulted in his registration as a sex offender.

Rudolf wrote in his order that attorney Ben Allen agreed to a stipulation and Lakin freely entered into it.

“Defendant is bound by his attorney’s agreement,” Rudolf wrote.

“Defendant’s repeated assertion he was merely doing what his attorney perceived was the right thing is of no legal consequence.”

In his order, Rudolf took advantage of an opportunity to review the case’s unique history.

In 2006, John Doe alleged that Lakin willfully and wantonly engaged in childhood sexual abuse. In 2007, Lakin denied the allegation and moved to stay the proceedings while he disposed of criminal charges, Rudolf wrote.

Lakin pleaded guilty of distributing cocaine, and served a six year sentence.

The motion to stay was allowed, Rudolf wrote.

He wrote that both sides substituted judges, and individual recusals brought a total of 10 substitutions.

He wrote that he took the assignment on Feb. 19, 2013.

“On September 1, 2011, plaintiffs filed a motion to lift the stay with the allegations the state of Illinois had exhibited no indication, other than superfluous verbiage, in their intention to prosecute defendant L. Thomas Lakin,” Rudolf wrote.

He wrote that on Oct. 13, 2011, the Does served subpoenas on prosecutor Charles Coburn and supervisor Patrick Delfino to testify at a hearing on Dec. 5. On Oct. 25, 2011, Lakin appeared before judge Charles Romani in MadisonCounty, on a charge of aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

Rudolf quoted Ben Allen from the transcript of the hearing before Romani, acknowledging that the stipulated facts were sufficient evidence to convict his client beyond a reasonable doubt.

Rudolf wrote that after taking that position in a prior proceeding in open court, Lakin can’t assert a contrary position in his court.

“The plea of the defendant was to the criminal felony as charged and was made voluntarily, and upon advice of counsel,” he wrote.

“The plea of the defendant was not to any sort of lesser offense,” he wrote.

He wrote that the plea added a year to Lakin’s sentence and “relegated him to register as a predatory sexual offender for the rest of his life.”

Rudolf found no merit in Lakin’s argument that he didn’t litigate his behavior.

“This court finds that there was an incentive to litigate, the amount at stake was significant, and there was a struggle to the finish by said defendant,” Rudolf wrote.


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