Metro-East News

Marion County judge picked to preside over Duebbert criminal case

Judge Michael McHaney, left, speaks at a swearing-in ceremony for judges in 2010.
Judge Michael McHaney, left, speaks at a swearing-in ceremony for judges in 2010.

A Marion County judge will preside over the case of St. Clair County Circuit Judge Ron Duebbert, who is facing felony charges of intimidation and criminal sexual abuse, and misdemeanor counts of solicitation of a sex act and battery.

Circuit Judge Michael McHaney was selected to hear the case.

McHaney serves in the Fourth Judicial Circuit, which covers Christian, Clay, Clinton, Effingham, Fayette, Jasper, Marion, Montgomery and Shelby counties.

Duebbert was charged earlier this month following a former client’s allegation that Duebbert grabbed the man’s genitals and offered to reduce a legal fee by $100 if the man would perform a sex act on him, according to court documents filed with the St. Clair County Circuit Clerk.

At the time of the charge, St. Clair County Chief Judge Andrew Gleeson said a judge outside the five-county 20th Judicial Circuit would be brought in to hear the charges against the 55-year-old Duebbert.

The felony charge of intimidation brought by special prosecutors from the State Appellate Prosecutor’s Office office alleges that on Nov. 22, 2016, Duebbert “committed the offense of intimidation” against his client when he “communicated a threat to expose the victim to hatred, contempt or ridicule ... to ensure that the victim would never tell anyone” that Duebbert allegedly offered to reduce his legal fee in return for oral sex.

The sex charge stated that Duebbert “knowingly committed an act of sexual conduct” in that he reached into the man’s shorts and “touched the victim’s penis through the victim’s underwear for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification.”

The misdemeanor counts allege that Duebbert committed battery in that he “made physical contact in an insulting or provoking nature” with the man and committed the offense of “solicitation of a sexual act,” by offering to “knock $100 off his legal bill if the man would perform an act of oral sex on the judge.”

Duebbert was ordered to appear in court Dec. 1 to answer the charges.

The special prosecutors, David Robinson and Lorinda Lampkin, could not be reached for comment. Illinois Supreme Court regulations limit what any prosecutor can publicly comment on during a prosecution. Both prosecutors were already working on a request brought by the Major Case Squad of Greater St. Louis for possible charges of obstructing justice against Duebbert. Those charges have not been filed.

The request by the Major Case Squad detectives involved the Dec. 30 shooting death of Carl Silas, of Belleville, whom police alleged was killed by David Fields, 20, Duebbert’s former roommate. Duebbert’s cell phone records, obtained by police though a search warrant, found that the judge and Fields exchanged nine text messages on Dec. 29, the day before Silas was killed.

In 1999, Duebbert was charged with misdemeanor battery on a complaint from an 18-year-old man that Duebbert had fondled him. According to News-Democrat reporting, the young man was in the courthouse facing a burglary charge when he allegedly was fondled. Records of the case no longer appear in online county legal records and may have been removed because all records of the case were expunged by judicial order.

McHaney has been a member of the bar since 1982, according to the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. He previously worked as a public defender. McHaney wrote a letter of support for a woman convicted of murdering her husband who sought clemency. McHaney wrote that it was the second murder trial he ever defended and admitted that he botched the trial and that it haunted him.

“By 1986, when I was assigned as an assistant public defender to represent defendant Peggy Jo Jackson, I had tried only one other murder case,” McHaney wrote. “Based on my inexperience at the time, I had no business trying this case myself.”

Jackson’s murder conviction was commuted in 2013. She was released from prison and relocated to South Carolina.

In 2012, McHaney and his wife, Marion County Democratic Party Chairwoman Laura Broviac, once picked up movie director John Waters, who was hitchhiking in Kansas.