By Pat Pratt
Madison County State Attorney Tom Haine on Thursday issued a statement on the recent 5th District Appellate Court rejection of an appeal by two former Madison County officials who sued over their termination.
Attorneys for former county administrator Doug Hulme and former IT director Rob Dorman said last week in response to the appellate decision they plan to take the case to the state supreme court.
Since their April 2020 firings by a near-unanimous vote of the county board, Dorman and Hulme have filed a slew of wrongful-termination litigation in the state and federal courts. Their ouster followed the findings of a public corruption task force by prior state’s attorney Tom Gibbons, which alleged they improperly accessed emails and other data for political purposes.
Dorman and Hulme since the allegations have maintained they were acting as whistleblowers in rooting out public corruption. The task force findings were turned over to the state attorney general, who declined to bring criminal charges.
In light of the appeals decision, Haine’s office issued a news release Thursday sharply criticizing Dorman and Hulme’s long-running legal battle and stating he hopes it is finally put to rest.
“The appellate justices resoundingly agreed that Hulme’s and Dorman’s long-running litigation needs be dismissed,” Haine said. “That is good news for county government and county taxpayers. Madison County and the State’s Attorney’s Office have been forced to expend considerable time and resources defending against the self-serving arguments of these two disgruntled ex-employees who were fired by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of the County Board. Our resources would be better spent serving the needs of the citizens.”
“We hope that after this resounding win, this issue can finally be put to rest and our local County Government can refocus on its true mission – serving taxpayers and citizens with ethics and integrity,” Haine added.
Haine, whose office serves as legal counsel for the county, also named County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler in the release as having appointed the ex-officials and being the lone (25-1) vote against their firing in the decision made by the county board.
“Their employment was terminated by a bipartisan 25-1 vote of the County Board in 2020 for ‘actions undertaken … outside the bounds of ethical conduct and standards that are expected’ of someone in a position of leadership,” the news release reads. “Chairman Prenzler opposed their termination. Hulme claimed in an op-ed that Prenzler had “knowledge” of his actions, that they were done with full ‘authority,’ and his ‘findings were conveyed to Chairman Prenzler.’”
The Illinois Fifth District Appellate Court on June 15 issued a judgment in the appellate case of Rob Dorman and Doug Hulme versus Madison County. The judgment applies to three claims made in now dismissed cases challenging their April 2020 ouster, one a chancery hearing requesting administrative review of their firing and another miscellaneous review hearing.
In those three challenges to the circuit’s earlier decision, Dorman and Hulme charged the court erred when it denied a change to an out-of-county judge, erred in dismissing a complaint seeking administrative review and erred when it granted the county summary judgment of a dismissal related to a finding the county did comply with the state Open Meetings Act.
All three fell flat at the 5th District Appellate Court earlier this month.
“The Appellate Court’s opinion issued June 15 fully upholds that dismissal, stating in part that the plaintiffs ‘failed to cite any law whatsoever in response to the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, choosing instead only to respond with five conclusory allegations/general statements instead of articulating more detailed support for their position,’” Haine stated in the release.