BELLEVILLE – St. Clair County and former state’s attorney Brendan Kelly moved to dismiss Ron Duebbert’s malicious prosecution suit on Feb. 28, claiming he failed to demonstrate there was no probable cause.
County counsel Garrett Hoerner wrote, “Probable cause is a good faith belief by the prosecutor that the accused was guilty of the offense charged.
“Probable cause does not depend on the actual facts of the case or the guilt or innocence of the accused, but on the honest and reasonable belief of the one commencing the prosecution.”
Hoerner also asserted prosecutorial immunity for Kelly, claiming Illinois common law has long recognized it for a prosecutor acting within the scope of his duties.
He wrote that it applies, “even if he initiates charges maliciously, unreasonably, without probable cause, or even on the basis of false testimony or evidence.”
He wrote that it extends to the withholding of exculpatory evidence.
Kelly currently serves as Illinois state police superintendent.
Duebbert held office as an elected circuit judge until Jan. 10, when the Illinois court commissioners removed him finding he misled police in a murder investigation and lied to an inquiry board.
He filed papers to enter the March 17 Republican primary as a write in candidate for St. Clair County state’s attorney. If 233 voters write his name, Duebbert will appear on the November general election ballot against James Gomric who is serving the remainder of Kelly's term.
Around the time of his announcement, Duebbert wrote in a letter to the editor that as his campaign unfolds, people would learn details on "fake crimes" he was charged with and why judicial misconduct charges were brought against him.
"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," he wrote. "It will unfold in detail during my campaign."
Duebbert's malicious prosecution lawsuit names the County, Kelly, Belleville, detectives Timothy Crimm and Daniel Collins, prosecutors Lorinda Lamken-Finnell and David Robinson, former client Carlos Rodriguez, and lawyer Alex Enyart in January.
Rodriguez signed an affidavit in 2017, as Enyart’s client, accusing Duebbert of sexual abuse.
The affidavit formed the entire basis of felony and misdemeanor charges that Lamken-Finnell and Robinson filed.
They dismissed all charges in 2018, “nolle prosequi,” with trial about to start.
Duebbert retained attorney Michael Lawder of St. Louis to file a complaint, and Lawder filed it in U.S. district court last year.
Senior District Judge Richard Mills of Peoria ruled that it belonged in state court, and Lawder took it there on Jan. 17.
Hoerner answered that it “still contains few detailed factual allegations amidst a litany of unsupported, conclusory statements lacking any factual basis.”
He wrote that to state a claim for malicious prosecution, a plaintiff must establish that the proceeding was terminated in his favor.
He wrote that an allegation that a nolle prosequi order was entered, without statement of reason why, was not enough.
Rodriguez answered the suit, representing himself, and demanded a jury.
As of March 6, the docket showed no answers from Belleville or Enyart.
Illinois State’s Attorneys’ Appellate Prosecutors, employer of Lamken-Finnell and Robinson, moved for leave to exceed their page limit.
Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson assigned the suit to Circuit Judge Christopher Kolker.