Schottel responds to Young's move for sanctions over fees from Venezia wrongful death case

By Amelia Flood | Dec 27, 2010



St. Louis attorney James Schottel Jr. claims that former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Patrick Young has not outlined how a federal suit Schottel Jr. filed against him in St. Louis federal court is "frivolous."

Young moved Dec. 13 for sanctions against Schottel Jr., claiming Schottel Jr. had filed a case with no basis in law against him and Belleville attorney William Berry.

Schottel Jr. is suing Young and Berry for what he claims were violations of his civil rights and a conspiracy to deprive him of a $1,600 retainer fee he was paid by Michael and Cynthia Anderson.

The Andersons retained Schottel Jr. in an ultimately futile wrongful death suit against the estate of convicted racketeer Thomas Venezia and Robert Staack.

The Andersons claimed in the 2007 suit that Staack negligently entrusted Venezia with the gun used to kill their daughter, Jennifer.

Jennifer Anderson was found dead in the home she shared with Venezia from a gunshot wound to the back of the head.

Venezia was also found dead at the scene.

The deaths were ruled a murder-suicide.

Neither defendant was ever served in the case.

Schottel Jr. filed to withdraw from the Andersons' suit last September.

He then missed several hearings on the matter until a January 2010 hearing in which Young allowed Schottel Jr. to withdraw from the case provided he return the $1,600 the Andersons had paid him.

Schottel Jr. asked Young to reconsider.

The judge denied the request.

Schottel Jr. then filed a move with the Illinois State Supreme Court asking for a writ of mandamus.

If granted, the writ would have forced Young to overturn his decision and allow Schottel Jr. to keep the money.

The supreme court denied the request.

Schottel Jr. eventually returned the money over the summer after Young threatened to send a body attachment to St. Louis to bring Schottel Jr. to his courtroom.

The Andersons were unable to find another attorney to take the wrongful death case.
Young dismissed it with prejudice in August.

Schottel Jr. filed the federal suit against Young and Berry, his former partner in the Andersons' suit a month later.

In his Dec. 17 response to Young's sanctions move, Schottel Jr. claims the judge does not set out any facts to support his argument that the suit is unwarranted.

"Defendant Judge Young's Motion fails to state how Plaintiff's complaint and response to motion to dismiss is frivolous, unfounded in fact and unwarranted by existing law," Schottel Jr.'s response reads.

Schottel Jr. asks that the motion for sanctions be dismissed.

Both Young and Berry are also seeking to have the case dismissed as well.

Young retired from the bench Nov. 30.

Assistant Attorney General Rex Gradeless represents Young.

Richard Korn represents Berry.

Schottel Jr. represents himself.

U.S. District Court Judge Henry Autrey presides.

The underlying St. Clair County case is St. Clair case number 07-L-359. It was dismissed with prejudice in August.

The federal suit filed in the Eastern District of Missouri is case number 4:10-CV-1673 HEA.

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