EDGAR CO. (ECWd) –
The Illinois Supreme Court, on May 23, 2013, filed the opinion on former Edgar County State’s Attorney Michael McFatridge v Lisa Madigan. This case involved McFatridge, and whether the taxpayers were responsible for his litigation expenses after being sued in the course of his official duties.
This opinion means that the State of Illinois is not responsible for McFatridge’s attorney fees as the AG had determined the suit against him involved allegations of acts or omissions of intentional, wilful, or wanton misconduct. Since these civil suits were settled before coming to trial, there is no court or jury to determine that the actions of McFatridge were not of intentional, wilful, or wanton misconduct.
I do not know as of today how this opinion affects Edgar County or its insurance company and whether they will have to foot the bill or not.
McFatridge was the Edgar County State’s Attorney from 1980-1991, and in 1987 prosecuted the Steidl and Whitlock case for the 1986 murders of Dyke and Karen Rhodes in Paris, Illinois. Both successfully had their convictions overturned, Steidl in 2003 and Whitlock in 2007. Both filed civil rights violation complaints in the US District Court (Central Illinois).
June 2005 – McFatridge requested the Attorney General represent him in the Steidl lawsuit
July 2005 – The Illinois Attorney General declined McFatridge’s request in a letter citing: “the acts or omissions of plaintiff’s claim involve allegations of intentional, wilful, or wanton misconduct on your part.” Further stating that if a court or jury finds otherwise, the state would reimburse the litigation fees.
March and April 2009 – Former State’s Attorney Matthew Sullivan requested the AG defend McFatridge, and requested the state pay 2/3 of Edgar County’s legal fees.
May 2009 – The AG denied both requests.
July and August 2010 – Terry Ekl, attorney for McFatridge, and Mark Isaf, current Edgar County State’s Attorney, again requested the AG defend and/or pay for McFatridge defense.
August 30, 2010 – McFatridge and Edgar County filled mandamus action, seeking to have a court direct the AG to pay all legal expenses of McFatridge
Oct 1, 2010 – AG files motion to dismiss, stating the action sought to compel the AG to perform an act that is statutorily at her discretion.
Oct 21, 2010 – Circuit Court granted the AG’s motion
Appellate Court reversed the trial court’s decision and the AG appealed to the Supreme Court. The Illinois Campaign for Political Reform filed a brief in support of the AG, and the Illinois State’s Attorneys’ Association filed a brief in support of McFatridge and Edgar County.
January 22, 2013 – McFatridge petition to the United States Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari was DENIED.
May 23, 2013 – Illinois Supreme Court reverses Appellate Court judgment and affirmed the Circuit Court judgment.