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Third Will County judge appointed to Monson case

MORRIS – Conflicts of interest caused recusals of two Will County judges in the latest lawsuit brought by former VAC Superintendent Elton Monson, but a third Will County judge appeared to be a good fit for the case at Wednesday’s status hearing.

The status hearing held at the Grundy County Courthouse was regarding the latest in a series of suits filed by Monson, who served as Grundy County Veteran’s Assistance Commission Superintendent from 1999 to 2011 when the commission, later supported by the Grundy County Board, terminated him and two other employees – Kathleen Doran and Phyllis Doran.

This lawsuit was brought against the county, the current VAC and multiple other parties for wrongful termination.

The past judges were recused per a request by the plaintiffs, Kathleen Doran and Monson, who cited the judges’ previous relationships with Rathbun, Cservenyak & Kozol law firm, which is representing several of the defendants in the case.

The previous judges publicly disclosed that they accepted referral fees from the firm or had previously worked for the firm before becoming a judge.

The latest Will County judge to attempt to preside over the case is Judge Joseph Polito.

“I’ve been a judge since 2006 and I’ve never had any relationship with that firm since becoming a judge,” Polito told the court Wednesday. “I see no reason why I should recuse myself.”

Monson and Kathleen Doran retain the right to file for a substitution judge if they are unsatisfied with Polito.

When asked by Polito if they intended to motion for a judge substitution, the plaintiffs said they were unsure.

“I don’t know yet. I would like to do a little more research,” Kathleen Doran said.

Polito moved forward with two of the motions already filed by the plaintiffs. He set the next hearing for Aug. 27, giving the plaintiffs time to decide whether they would like a judge substitution.

“I don’t want to get too deep into this case if there’s going to be a substitution,” Polito said.

“If anyone is going to file a motion for substitution, it would be nice if they filed it before the next hearing,” he continued.

The lawsuit requires a Will County judge because all three Grundy County judges have been named in the suit, which was filed in December 2013 by Kathleen Doran and Monson.

Kathleen Doran also filed on behalf of Phyllis Doran, who has since died.

Monson and Kathleen Doran are representing themselves and are asking for lost wages, benefits and reimbursements of $247,884.49. In addition, they are asking for $100 million in punitive damages.

The suit names Grundy County judges, county board members and several local veteran’s organizations as defendants in the case.

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