Madison Co., Ill (ECWd) –
In a rare, but significant decision, the Illinois Supreme Court ordered the civil trial of Robert Dorman and Douglas Hulme v. Madison County et al, to be heard in the Seventh Judicial Circuit, which includes Sangamon County. This effectively disqualified every Judge in the Third Judicial Circuit, which includes Madison County.
This case started with a simple Freedom of Information Act request and the response to the request, which appeared to prove a political machine was operating out of the Madison County Courthouse and Madison County Administration building for years and came to an abrupt end with the election of a new county board chairman.
After the release of the requested public records which lead to the discovery of alleged electioneering within the courthouse, a task force was formed by the State’s Attorney (we believe in an attempt at covering up wrongdoing and payback for releasing public records they tried to keep secret) and some Madison County administrative offices were raided by the task force. The Attorney General later determined there was no cause for charges to be brought against county employees, but the county board majority terminated the employment of Dorman and Hulme, resulting in this civil lawsuit.
According to the Petition to Disqualify All Judges Of Third Judicial Circuit (emphasis ours):
- . . . Kane had submitted a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request Madison County Board Administration and the Madison County State’s Attorney’s Office. The FOIA was properly complied with by Board FOIA officer Cynthia Ellis and Chris Bethel of the IT department by accessing email and retrieving public records to comply with the FOIA request. Ellis responded to Kane’s FOIA request on July 20, 2017, providing Kane with responsive records while on July 27, 2017, Assistant State’s Attorney Jeffrey Ezra responded to the same request claiming there were no responsive records.
- The release of public records upset [State’s Attorney] Gibbons as the emails caused him difficulties in that [federal] case, and the contents of the documents revealed campaign fundraising in his office. He complained that this was an improper FOIA disclosure even though Assistant State’s Attorney Jeffery Ezra was aware and he approved the IT Department to search for and retrieve emails in order to respond to Kane’s FOIA request. The Illinois Attorney General became involved in this case after Ezra requested that Kane return the records produced by Ellis, claiming they were provided in error. Assistant Attorney General Edie Steinberg found in Kane’s favor that the records were, in fact, public records and that the Gibbons’ office had failed to conduct a proper search for records and had an untimely response when they claimed there were no responsive records. To further upset Gibbons the fundraising and campaigning in his office was reported in the press garnering a front-page headline ‘Emails that Gibbons sought to suppress promised free beer for – 2012 Haine fundraiser” January 16, 2018, six days after the raid on Dorman and Hulme’ s offices.
- Previous Administrator, Joe Parente, and the previous County Administrator, Dunstan had deleted their computer hard drives which was improper and illegal, and Hulme forwarded this information to Gibbons, and he ignored it. Hulme also prior to taking over saw Dunstan dumping stacks of papers into a recycling bin. Later, Hulme looked at these papers and saw hundreds of pages of election and campaign materials, proof that over the years improper campaigning had been done from Madison County offices.
- Hulme found evidence of campaigning by some Madison County employees. He found this out by doing administrative search of the Madison County email system with the with the terms “fundraiser” and “campaign” and “precinct” with only 3 hours of work found that many county officials and employees were using the Madison County email system for prohibited political activities. Hulme informed Prenzler of this and other Madison County Board members.
- On or about January 3, 2018, Gibbons and Assistant State’s Attorney Crystal Uhe (hereinafter “Uhe”) convened what he called a “Madison County Public Corruption Task Force” (hereinafter “Task Force”) to investigate “allegations of probable official misconduct, possible bribery, and other potential charges”. An Agreement was presented and signed by all entities and persons present. There at the meeting were Chief Jay Keeven and of Defendant City of Edwardsville, Chief Rich Miller of Defendant Granite City, Chief Steve Evans of Defendant Collinsville, Chief Jake Simmons and Deputy Chief Terry Buhs, Deputy Major Jeff Connor, Lt. David Vucich, Sgt. Brian Koberna, and Director Robert Rizzi of the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, and Mark Dorion, Captain Billy Sons, and Major Joe Collins of the Illinois State Police. David Vucich of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department was selected to be the Commander. He is the ex-husband of Jennifer Vucich would worked for Gibbons as an assistant State’s Attorney and was now married to former State’s Attorney William Mudge who is now a Judge of the Third Judicial Circuit.
- . . . no Grand Jury investigative materials were released by the order, and per Illinois law, the Slusser overhear previously referred to was not released as pursuant to Illinois law only those prosecuting or investigation the case, and the person conducting the overhear have the right to same. It is illegal for such overhears to be played for anyone else. But it was played for Madison County board members in violation of Illinois law.
- We urge everyone to read the entire Petition.