Judge Matoesian

In its fight against a Madison County Circuit Court judgment, Granite City attorney Jane Unsell learned she cannot question the characters whose dubious real estate transaction ended up costing the city $104,259.17.

On July 21, Judge Andy Matoesian denied Granite City's motion to compel depositions of Armettia Peach and Chad Carpenter under oath about Carpenter’s transfer of ownership of a home to Peach.

Matoesian granted Peach’s motion to quash the depositions.

Granite City sought answers in its bid to vacate the judgment that Matoesian entered last year in favor of Peach--which was a whopping amount given that Peach never paid for the house at 9 Briarcliffe Dr.

Carpenter bought it for $68,900 and later transferred the title to Peach by quit claim deed. County records show she paid nothing for the house.

Peach claims that Granite City should not have issued an occupancy permit for the home--alleging that water leaked through the roof and damaged the house.

Her suit named a former owner of the house, Kevin Link, and Link’s contractor, David Lambert, as defendants. She claimed they performed cosmetic repairs that hid defects.

Link and Lambert answered Peach’s complaint, but Granite City did not. Peach dismissed Link and Lambert. She asked Matoesian for default judgment against the city.

Matoesian granted default judgment in July 2004. His order stated that the purchase price was $70,000, and repairs cost $8,242.50, for a total of $78,242.50.

He added $26,016.67, a third of the total, in fees for Peach’s attorney, Thomas Maag of the Lakin Law Firm of Wood River.

Granite City moved in November to vacate the judgment, arguing that the city did not respond because Peach’s complaint did not include a prayer for relief from the city.

Apparently Matoesian had awarded Peach a sum she never expended.

Unsell indicated her interest in deposing Peach and Carpenter arose from the Record's investigative report on the case in April.

Granite City confirmed the information and asked Matoesian to compel depositions of Peach and Carpenter, arguing that county property records indicated possible fraud.

Maag argued that a party cannot depose anyone after a court has entered judgment.

Matoesian turned the city down.

Matoesian has set an Aug. 16 hearing on the city’s motion to vacate his judgment.

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