St. Clair County prosecutors have filed at least four complaints against Circuit Judge Ronald Duebbert with the Judicial Inquiry Board, the latest one filed Oct. 6.
The allegations in the new complaint are not specifically spelled out, but the complaint was filed with the board on the same day that St. Clair County State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly asked for the appointment of a special prosecutor to review allegations against a judge of battery and solicitation of a sexual act.
Daniel Fultz and Dedra Moore, Duebbert’s attorneys, both declined to comment.
The complaint letters to the Judicial Inquiry Board were obtained by the Belleville News-Democrat under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.
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“It would be inappropriate for me to add any comment to what has been provided in compliance with your FOIA request,” Kelly said. The new complaint letter to the Judicial Inquiry Board included a copy of a police report, which Kelly’s office declined to provide to the New-Democrat.
Kelly did say that he has filed no complaints with the board against any other judge, besides Duebbert, since May of 2013, when he filed a complaint regarding then-Circuit Judge Michael Cook, who was arrested, charged and later convicted of possessing heroin.
Kelly’s request for a special prosecutor stated that the subject of the investigation is a sitting circuit judge of the 20th Judicial Circuit. The judge was not named in the request. Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson approved the request.
David Robinson and Dave Neal, of the State Appellate Prosecutor’s Office, were already review a request from the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis for charges of obstructing justice to be filed against Duebbert. The allegation involves the Dec. 30 death of Carl Silas, who police say was shot by Duebbert’s former roommate.
The former roommate, 21-year-old David Fields, faces murder charges in the death of Silas. Fields remained in the St. Clair County Jail as of Saturday.
Major Case Squad detectives sought an obstruction of justice charge against Duebbert, 55, after the judge told detectives that the last time he had communicated with Fields was about 8 p.m. Dec. 29 — the night before the killing. A search of Duebbert’s cell phone records by a detective found that the two exchanged nine text messages from 8:10 p.m. to 10:47 p.m. that night.
In 1999, Duebbert was charged with battery in connection with an 18-year-old man’s allegation that Duebbert fondled him. The 18-year-old was in the St. Clair County Building to appear in court on a 1998 burglary charge. He alleged that Duebbert offered him a ride to his office in his Lexus then fondled him inside the car.
The disposition of the case is unclear because it is no longer listed on the circuit clerk’s webpage. Charges such as battery can be expunged from a person’s court record with a court order.
Duebbert, a Republican, beat former Chief Judge John Baricevic, a longtime Democrat, in the November election. After Duebbert’s election, Judge Gleeson, who became Chief Judge after Baricevic’s defeat, barred Duebbert from hearing criminal cases. Gleeson said he did so because Duebbert was living with Fields, who was required to register with state police as a requirement of his release from prison.
Fields spent six years in prison for an assault on a Belleville East High School student. The girl was pregnant and alleged that Fields beat and raped her.
After the Silas killing, Gleeson barred Duebbert from hearing any cases. Duebbert continues to receive his salary.
In July, Duebbert appeared before a grand jury. He stayed in the room for five minutes. Neither Neal, Robinson nor Fultz would comment on whether Duebbert invoked the Fifth Amendment during his appearance before the grand jury.
A complaint filed with the Judicial Inquiry Board can result in a judge being removed from office, suspended without pay, censured or reprimanded. Kelly didn’t provide to the News-Democrat supporting documents, such as police reports and DVDs, that he sent to the board.
“If my office receives any information regarding Judge Duebbert, we forward it to the JIB to comply with our reporting obligations under the rules of professional conduct. It will be up to them to decide what to do with that information,” Kelly said.
In a television interview given in May, Duebbert said he believed he was being targeted because he was gay and a Republican.