Madison County Associate Circuit Judge Ralph Mendelsohn ordered the Madison County Circuit Clerk's office to preserve an expunged sexual assault civil case while a daily newspaper fights a legal battle to gain access to the sealed court file.
The Belleville News-Democrat asked the court not to destroy case number 06L365 on May 5, the same day Circuit Judge Daniel Stack ordered it to be dismissed and expunged at the request of the plaintiffs in the case.
The lawsuit was filed April 21 under fictitious named plaintiffs and defendants.
Former Madison County Chief Judge Edward Ferguson allowed the case to be sealed.
While the identity of the parties cannot be confirmed at this time, several sources tell The Record that the defendant is a person who is a household name in the legal community, but not a current or former judge
Mendelsohn began the hearing at 9 a.m. Tuesday with attorney Joseph Martineau of Lewis, Rice and Fingersh of St. Louis telling Mendelsohn that the clerk's office would not let him file as a third-party to the case and started a new and separate proceeding regarding the original case.
Once Mendelsohn realized Martineau was asking for an order directing the circuit clerk's office to do "something," Mendelsohn ruled that the office had the right to consult with its lawyers before the case could proceed and recessed the hearing until 1 p.m.
When the hearing resumed, John Maguire, chief deputy in the Madison County State's Attorney Civil Division, entered his appearance as counsel for the clerk's office. Both sides had the proposed order ready for Mendelsohn to sign.
Martineau said he plans to file a formal application for intervention and motion to rescind the order closing and impounding the file.
If the identities of parties were known, "heads would spin," remarked an officer of the court bound by ethics from revealing anything more in an interview with The Record.
According to Judge Stack, the plaintiffs in the case were John Doe, by his mother and friend, Julie Doe, Joseph Doe, Jane Doe, by her mother and friend, Julie Doe, Mary Doe and James Doe.
Defendants' were John Roe, John Roe, II, John Roe, III, and John Roe IV.
No other hearings are scheduled at this time.