Former Judge Ron Duebbert, who was removed from the St. Clair County circuit court earlier this month, is taking aim at "political foes" over what he says was a targeted campaign to oust him.
Duebbert, elected as a Republican to the Twentieth Judicial Circuit in November 2016, never presided over a case from the bench as he was consigned to administrative duties after links to a convicted criminal emerged.
The Illinois Courts Commission removed Duebbert from the bench Jan. 10 after it found he “demonstrated an utter disregard for the integrity and respect of the judiciary.”
It was concluded he lied to police during a murder investigation regarding his contacts with prime suspect David E. Fields, who was later acquitted of the Dec. 30, 2016, slaying of Carl Silas. The murder has never been solved.
Duebbert, in a letter to the Record, claimed he was the target of “political foes” even before he took up his position on the bench.
He wrote that "throughout all proceedings I have been scrupulously honest." He indicated that since he is no longer prevented by the Illinois judicial canons from publicly speaking, he would provide details on how he was intimidated and harrassed, as his campaign for St. Clair County State's Attorney unfolds.
Duebbert announced last week he is running to be the county's prosecutor as a write-in candidate.
In his letter, Duebbert names the Belleville police, the state’s attorney’s office, the Illinois Office of the State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor (ISAAP), and the Chief Judge of the 20th Judicial Circuit as agencies involved in the actions to remove him following his election.
"Keep in mind that these malignant government actions were engaged in against me by four separate government entities," Duebbert said. "By running for election as St. Clair County State’s Attorney, I am answering my critics as loudly and as clearly as is possible. The unethical government actions taken against me– intimidation, harassment, defamation and political prosecution– should never have taken place."
St. Clair County State’s Attorney James Gomric, who is running unopposed on the Democratic ticket in the November election, ISAAP director Patrick Delfino, and Twentieth Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson did not respond to requests for comment on the claims made by Duebbert.
Duebbert was placed on administrative duties in January 2017, by Judge Gleeson. In April, 2018, the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board (JIB) filed a complaint with the Courts Commission accusing Duebbert of lying to its members and to police.
In its decision, the Courts Commission, which is made up of judges of the Supreme, Appellate and Circuit Courts as well as two members of the public, found the charges against him credible enough to oust him from his position.
The investigation into the former judge centered on an interview with members of the Major Case Squad some days after the Silas murder. Duebbert was asked about his contacts with Fields, whom he met in 2013 and who stayed in Duebbert's home after being paroled following time behind bars for battery of a pregnant woman.
Duebbert reportedly told police he had no contact with Fields on the day of the murder, but spoke to him the evening before. However, it was proved he did speak on that morning, and Duebbert later said in his own defense that he told the suspect to turn himself in, which is what happened.
"The people deserve to know the story of how and why I was charged with judicial misconduct, as well as with 'fake' crimes– truly, the people must know this entire story, wherever it may lead. It will unfold in detail during my campaign," Duebbert said of the run up to his March write-in attempt.
"Simply, the (Judicial Inquiry) board prosecutor did not want the Commission to have all the evidence in my case before it made its decision," he said, adding that there was a successful move to limit the evidence laid before the board.
"Thus, the Commission members made their decision absent hearing all the evidence related to the charges against me. Had all the evidence been provided to the Commission, as well as the entire political background giving rise to the original complaint, their decision would very likely have been different," Duebbert argued.
Duebbert filed papers Jan. 15 to enter the Republcan primary as a write-in candidate. He will appear on the November general election ballot if 233 voters write his name in the March primary, County Clerk Tom Holbrook told the Record. He could also run in the November general if the Republican Party slates his candidacy.