Sidley recently achieved a complete victory on behalf of the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board, the body created under the Illinois Constitution to investigate and prosecute complaints of misconduct and incapacity against Illinois state court judges. Chicago partner Kevin Fee serves as Trial Counsel to the Board and is responsible for prosecuting all complaints brought before the Illinois Courts Commission seeking discipline for judges in violation of the state’s canons of judicial conduct. In April 2018, the Board filed a two-count complaint on the Board’s behalf against Judge Ronald Duebbert, Circuit Judge of the 20th Judicial Circuit in St. Clair County, Illinois, for violating the Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct when he lied to police about his contacts with a former roommate — a then-twenty-year-old felon named David Fields — in the hours immediately before and after a murder in which Fields was the primary suspect, then lied under oath while testifying before the Board about the same incident. Among other things, Duebbert failed to inform police during an interview that he had given Fields a cell phone during a meeting just hours before the murder, and had been in regular contact with Fields thereafter. Fee, along with Chicago associate Paul Bateman Jr., tried the case last week before a seven-member Courts Commission panel, with Illinois Supreme Court Justice Robert Thomas presiding. The Commission found in the Board’s favor on both counts in a January 10, 2020 Order, and removed Judge Duebbert from the bench effective immediately.
The removal from judicial office — the highest sanction available to the Illinois Courts Commission — was the second imposed in the last four months as a result of a Board trial victory, with Judge Patrick O’Shea of the 18th Judicial Circuit of DuPage County, Illinois, removed by Commission Order in September 2019.