Belleville attorney wants chief judge substituted for cause; Claims his ARDC complaint against her shows bias

By Record News | Jul 31, 2018

BELLEVILLE – Attorney regulators have closed an investigation of charges Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson brought against lawyer Margaret Lowery, according to a petition and brief she filed in his court on July 26. 

As a plaintiff in a St. Clair County Circuit Court lawsuit against a home remodeler, Lowery called on Gleeson -who has presided over the case - to grant a substitute judge.

She wrote that he engaged in character assassination that would forever prevent him from appearing impartial toward her, and moved for appointment of an outside judge to hear the petition. 

The basis for Gleeson’s action against Lowery relates to a statement she signed regarding events of Dec. 30, 2016. 

Before dawn that day, someone murdered Carl Silas of Belleville. 

Suspect David Fields, who had spent some days at the home of Circuit Judge Ron Duebbert prior to Duebbert’s election in 2016, turned himself in. A first degree murder case against Fields went to trial last week and ended in mistrial on the second day jurors heard testimony. 

On the night of Dec. 30, 2016, Lowery dined at the St. Clair Country Club in Belleville. 

In her statement, she alleges that she observed a courthouse employee exclaiming that Duebbert had been set up. 

An article was published on the Lowery statement in April 2017.

Gleeson complained to the Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission following publication of the article.

He wrote that she made outlandish, outrageous and reckless statements implying a vast and pervasive conspiracy to remove Duebbert from the bench. 

He wrote that she accused him, former judge John Baricevic, the major case squad, and the Supreme Court of complicity in murder and the framing of an innocent man. 

“All without a scintilla of evidence,” Gleeson wrote. 

At the time, a breach of contract suit that Lowery filed against Jerry Trent and his construction business occupied a spot on Gleeson’s docket. 

It hadn’t advanced in his court because he ordered arbitration

It advanced this month, when Trent moved to compel payment of arbitration fees.

Gleeson set a hearing Aug. 14. 

Lowery then placed in the record her exoneration of his charges. 

She entered an appearance as her own counsel in association with Jay Dowling, and petitioned for substitution. 

“Personal bias occurs when judges consider facts outside of the courtroom proceedings,” Lowery wrote. 

She wrote that Gleeson formed an opinion about an event in which he was not present and that he made allegations out of whole cloth. 

She wrote that nowhere in her statement did she accuse the Supreme Court of conspiracy to commit murder. 

“Judge Gleeson has already decided the credibility of a party and witness before he has heard any evidence and attributed statements to Lowery that were never made,” Lowery wrote. 

She wrote that an inquiry board of the ARDC considered the charge against her and voted to close its investigation. 

“One must conclude that it found no basis in fact for Judge Gleeson’s statements,” she wrote.

In Lowery's dispute with Trent – doing business as Trent's Quality Construction in Freeburg – arbitrator Kenneth A. Slavens at U.S. Arbitration and Mediation in St. Louis awarded Trent $45,067.77 on May 18 for unpaid remodeling work done at Lowery's Belleville home. See the detailed ruling here.

Slavens also awarded Trent fees and costs associated with arbitration and dismissed without prejudice claims against a Lowery trust.

Lowery said she disputes Slavens' findings.

She filed her petition and brief on July 26 and a day later Eric Rhein, on behalf of Trent, filed the motion to enter judgment in the arbitration award.

Trent reached out to the Record on July 30 requesting a story be written about the arbitration ruling - which to be enforced requires a judge's order. 

Trent said that he was not aware of Lowery's petition and brief prior to reaching out for publicity on the May arbitration ruling.

He said his biggest concern was not about the monetary damages the arbitrator ruled on but rather the principle of him prevailing in arbitration.

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Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission Twentieth Judicial Circuit of Illinois

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