Metro-East News

Did judge lie? Commission will hear allegations against Duebbert in February

A history of the Judge Duebbert investigation

Circuit Judge Ron Duebbert was elected in November 2016 and has been under investigation both criminally and by the Judicial Inquiry Board since early 2017.
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Circuit Judge Ron Duebbert was elected in November 2016 and has been under investigation both criminally and by the Judicial Inquiry Board since early 2017.

The allegations St. Clair County Circuit Judge Ron Duebbert will face in February is whether he lied to police during a murder investigation and then lied to the Judicial Inquiry Board that was looking into that accusation.

Duebbert, who was elected in November 2016 but has been on administrative duties since January 2017, is tentatively scheduled to go before the Illinois Courts Commission on Feb. 26-27 in Chicago.

When asked whether a two-day hearing was unusual, Courts Commission spokesman Christopher Bonjean said, “Each case is unique and some in the past have taken multiple days.”

Judge Ronald Duebbert

The Courts Commission will consist of one Supreme Court justice, two Appellate Court justices, two Circuit Court judges, and two citizens, Bonjean said. As for who those judges and lay persons will be, Bonjean said it’s too early to tell.

“We won’t know for sure until it gets closer to the hearing date,” Bonjean said in an email.

Daniel Fultz, Duebbert’s attorney, declined to comment. Duebbert could not be reached for comment.

Duebbert, a Republican, defeated former Chief Judge John Baricevic in the November 2016 election.

In the days after the election, it was discovered that David Fields, a felon who was ordered to register on the Illinois State Police Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth listed Duebbert’s home as his residence. He was convicted of an attack on a pregnant Belleville East studen.

Fields moved out of the home, and about six weeks after Duebbert was sworn in, Fields was charged with the first-degree murder of Carl Z. Silas of Belleville. He is currently standing trial on that charge.

The complaint by the Judicial Inquiry Board alleges that on December 30, 2016, while being interviewed by police officers in connection with the criminal investigation Silas’ murder, Duebbert made statements he knew ”to be false and deceptive, and omitted facts that he knew were relevant” to the murder investigation.

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.

No charges were issued.

“(Duebbert’s) misrepresentations, deceptions, and omissions concerned facts that were relevant to an active murder investigation,” the complaint stated.

The complaint goes on to allege that on May 12, 2017, and June 9, 2017, Duebbert appeared before the Judicial Inquiry Baord and testifyied falsely before the board, and omitted facts that he knew were relevant.

“These misrepresentations, deceptions, and omissions were made under oath, and concerned facts that were relevant to the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board’s investigation into Respondent’s conduct,” the complaint stated.

Duebbert was charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors after a 26-year-old man accused Duebbert, who was then his lawyer, of fondling his genitals and offering to reduce his legal fees by $100 if the man performed oral sex on Duebbert. A special prosecutor dismissed those cases when the victim said he no longer wanted to cooperate.

After a mistrial earlier this year, Fields is currently on trial for first-degree murder. The prosecution rested on Friday.

Fields posted videos on Facebook showing him and Duebbert together. In one video, from May 19, 2015, about three months before Fields went to the Illinois Department of Corrections, Fields is seen riding in Duebbert’s Porsche while Duebbert is seen driving. Fields uses gang language, threatens violence, refers to his Versace pants and tells Duebbert the two “look like millionaires.” In one of the videos, he refers to Duebbert as “Dollar Bill.”