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Dorman Open Meetings Case Continued

by Randy Pierce

MADISON COUNTY — Maneuvering by both sides in one aspect of the legal battle mounted by former Madison County employee Rob Dorman concerning his termination in 2020 has resulted in the continuance of a case before the Illinois Third Judicial Circuit Court until sometime in December.

In this particular instance, Dorman’s contention that the county had violated certain provisions of the Illinois Open Meetings Act was subject to a motion for dismissal from his former employer’s legal counsel but instead of that happening, it has been moved forward for further consideration.

A pair of meetings held by the county board which led to the decision to terminate Dorman and Doug Hulme from their respective positions of information technology director and director of administration in April 2020 was one of the matters of contention in the former’s filings against the county initiated last year, which cited alleged violations of the Illinois Open Meetings Act.

Among their other legal suits, the pair had charged that there were “insufficient factual findings” related to the decision to terminate them, citing a state “administrative review” law.

The case recently earmarked for continuation specifically concerned the alleged OMA violations with Dorman, who is a resident of Maryville, seeking to obtain verbatim recordings of county board meetings held in closed session back in 2020 that preceded the termination decision. Dorman further referenced a closed meeting of the county board’s personnel and labor relations committee held in 2017 in his argument.

Among the components of this situation presented by Dorman was the matter of a legal mandamus referencing the purported failure of elected officials who are being accused of not properly performing their duties as required in terms of the non-release of the recordings Dorman wants.

The county’s legal counsel presented to the court Dorman’s failing to include all of the elected board members as individuals in his pursuing of the mandamus order then he moved to be allowed to amend his complaint accordingly.

Dorman charged in his original case related to this matter that the county board did not correctly follow the timelines mandated per state law in reviewing the closed meeting minutes, thereby keeping them confidential from access by anyone else.

There was additional conjecture from the two opposing sides about the timing of the filing of the request for the closed session meeting information, exactly when those minutes are to be reviewed and considered for release, the authority of the county board to maintain them as confidential and Dorman’s argument that it “is in the best interests of the public” to make them accessible.

  Supplemental allegations presented by Dorman deal with the lack of the presence of a quorum, public notice requirements and actions taken not listed on the agenda of at least one of the meetings he cited.

One of the counters presented against Dorman by the county’s legal team charged him with claim splitting, an action he contests which concerns dividing components of a suit into separate parts, something generally disallowed in the court system. This claim-splitting argument is based on the existence of Dorman’s initial and subsequent legal filings that have occurred since he elected to move forward in formally objecting to his termination as a county employee and was utilized by the county in its effort to justify the dismissal of the OMA violation action taken by Dorman as referenced herein.

Further at issue is the right of the county board to keep the meeting information in question confidential as it is legally allowed when related to “pending litigation,” but Dorman argues that was not the original stated purpose for the closed meeting(s).

Yet another matter of contention regarding this matter concerns whether or not Dorman has an actual legal right to seek the “relief” he is after which, as applicable here, deals with the release of those meeting minutes and recordings.

Additionally brought forward in the years since all of this battling in the courts began, and more so in the recent past, is the issue of whether or not Dorman’s multiple lawsuits, some which have been dismissed, transferred to other legal jurisdictions or filed elsewhere, have merit and can be interpreted as “frivolous.”

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