20th Circuit Court has been a real hellhole

By The Madison County Record | Aug 21, 2014

To the Editor:

After nearly 15 months of stall tactics and futile arguments, Judge (Christopher) Kolker finally issued a ruling on the misconduct and Freedom of Information Act violations in my recent pro se lawsuit against East St. Louis officials (13-MR-0190). By law, a FOIA case is supposed to be heard in 30 days or less and be prioritized ahead of things like traffic court. So, on timeline alone, the 20th Circuit Court has been a real hellhole to seek justice in for me.

Despite the fact that the misconduct statute that I cited was clearly in the Municipal Code (65 ILCS 5) and not the Criminal Code (720 ILCS 5), he ruled that it was in his opinion a criminal charge which meant only the State’s Attorney office could enforce that law. Judge Kolker mentioned that if he upheld the misconduct statute, “every elected official would get removed from office.” On this we totally agree.

On turning a civil law into a criminal law to avoid having to do one’s job seems like some form of drunken justice that I cannot agree with.

Sadly, he never ordered the City of East St. Louis to release any information to me despite major credibility issues raised throughout the trial and the history of malfeasance and outright corruption in East St. Louis’ City Hall. He totally accepted their claim that they had no responsive records while I insisted that they did and showed him proof. To make bad matters worse, he denied even the return of my expenses for filing and process service.

Going forward, I will seek justice in the federal courts whenever and wherever practicable so as to avoid the time wasted in the judicial hellhole that is the 20th Circuit Court system.

Fortunately, a violation of the Freedom of Information Act is one of those causes that allows for one to go straight to the federal courts. I further advise anyone with a criminal case in St. Clair County to ask for a change of venue immediately.

Matt Hawkins
East St. Louis Civic Alliance President

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