Madison - St. Clair Record

Monday, April 6, 2020

Duebbert seeks reconsideration of order denying substitution of all 20th Circuit judges

State Court

By The Madison County Record | Mar 18, 2020


BELLEVILLE – Former judge Ron Duebbert claims Circuit Judge Christopher Kolker lacked jurisdiction to deny him an outside judge over his malicious prosecution suit. 

Kolker granted his own substitution and rejected an outside judge on March 12, and Duebbert argues he couldn’t do both. 

Attorney Michael Lawder of St. Louis moved for reconsideration on his behalf a day later. 

He wrote that if the court doesn’t reconsider, Duebbert would seek a supervisory order of the Illinois Supreme Court. 

Duebbert sued former state’s attorney Brendan Kelly last year, claiming he directed a malicious prosecution before and after appointment of special prosecutors. 

He also sued Belleville detectives Daniel Collins and Timothy Crimm, special prosecutors Lorinda Lamken-Finnell and David Robinson, lawyer Alex Enyart, and former client Carlos Rodriguez. 

Enyart represented Rodriguez in 2017, when Rodriguez signed an affidavit accusing Duebbert of sexual abuse. 

Enyart gave the affidavit to Collins and Crimm. 

They gave it to Lamken-Finnell and Robinson, who filed two felony counts of sexual abuse and two misdemeanor counts. 

Duebbert claims they learned that Rodriguez embellished the affidavit but offered him a plea agreement without disclosing the embellishment. 

They dismissed the charges in 2018. 

Duebbert filed suit in U.S. District Court but took it to St. Clair County after Senior District Judge Richard Mills ruled that it belonged in state court. 

Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson assigned Kolker, and Duebbert moved for substitution as a matter of right on March 11. 

Any party in an Illinois court can substitute one judge without cause if the judge has made no substantial rulings. 

Duebbert took a bigger step, proposing to disqualify all judges in the circuit. 

Lawder wrote, “All of the 20th Circuit judges are personally friends or acquaintances of the defendant Brendan Kelly.” 

He declared their prejudice “too high to be constitutionally tolerable.” 

He wrote that for the criminal case, Gleeson requested the Illinois Supreme Court to assign a judge of another circuit. 

“That the entire 20th Judicial Circuit and its judges were required according to the chief judge then to be disqualified from hearing plaintiff’s original criminal case is clear evidence of a bias or prejudice of all the judges in this circuit to now hear the plaintiff’s civil case arising from the facts of the original criminal case,” Lawder wrote.    

He pointed to Gleeson’s appointment of special prosecutors as evidence that judges had personal knowledge of evidence in this case.  

He wrote that in district court, all judges recused themselves. 

He wrote that the root of the prejudice was that Duebbert defeated chief judge John Baricevic in 2016; that judges ostracized Duebbert and some never spoke with him. 

He wrote that Duebbert was one of two Republican judges in the circuit, and no Democratic judge from the circuit attended his swearing in. 

Circuit Judge Stephen McGlynn swore him in. 

Lawder wrote that Gleeson removed Duebbert from part of his judicial duties and advised him that he couldn’t trust him because he was gay. 

He wrote that Gleeson advised Duebbert that felony judges believed he didn’t have the experience to perform felony or misdemeanor arraignments; that Gleeson removed Duebbert from the active bench and placed him on administrative duties before he was charged with any crime and that Gleeson and others filed complaints against Duebbert with the Judicial Inquiry Board and the Attorney Registration and Discipline Commission. 

The judicial inquiry resulted in Duebbert’s removal this year. 

Lawder cast Enyart as a source of Democratic bias, identifying him as son of former circuit judge Annette Eckert and former Congressman William Enyart. 

Kolker entered an order a day later, finding Duebbert “asks the court, where he filed suit, to substitute all judges of the 20th Circuit for cause.”  

He granted his own substitution, denied disqualification of other circuit judges, and sent the case to Gleeson for reassignment. 

According to Lawder’s reconsideration motion, Kolker didn’t follow procedure. 

He wrote that once Kolker granted substitution, he no longer had jurisdiction to deny the petition to substitute all the judges of the circuit. 

He quoted a rule requiring a judge other than the one named in a substitution petition to conduct a hearing as soon as possible. 

“Under oath, plaintiff has stated that all of the judges of the circuit are prejudiced against him, and he is entitled to a hearing on same,” Lawder wrote. 

Duebbert could have sued in other counties but he said on March 16 that he chose St. Clair County because he believes in the jury system.      

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Twentieth Judicial Circuit of Illinois