Early in his legislative career State Rep. Jack Franks passed the Citizen Participation Act to protect those opposing zoing changes by corporations.
My attorney used the act in defense of McHenry County Blog when I was sued by the Northwest Herald.
Now Franks’ allies have trotted it out to defend the actions made by the Illinois Integrity Fund against unsuccessful District 6 Republican County Board candidates Orville Brettman and Ersel Schuster.
Here is the way two defendents in the suit summarized the argument:
The claim is that the Brettman-Schuster suit is a “Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Paerticipation” or “SLAPP” suit, according to the dimissal motion filed by attorney Tara O’Mhoney.
In reply Brettman-Schuster attorney Jim Bishop offers the following:
The Illinois Integrity Fund (IIF) “is some illusory entity without legal status…[and] the speech sought to be protected by Defendants is defamatory and false and, therefore, not protected under the First Amendment.”
The brief argues it is the IIF defendants who must prove that the claims are “meritless and retaliatory.”
It also argues that none of the IIF citied documents are “official documents.”
The Brettman-Schuster quote the Citizen Participation Act’s protected entities:
- citizens and
- organization of the State of Illlinois
pointing out that the Illinois Integrity Fund is neither.
No “third party” can “determine anything about IIF.”
No incorportion with the Illinois Secretary of State.
No registration with the Illinois State Board of Elections.
Bishop then argues transcripts submitted by the defendants are in “no wy “authenticated or certified” and should be considered “hearsay.”
Indeed, the Cook Couty Appellate Court ruled that “grand jury proceedings cannot be used to preserve or obtain testimony for use in civil suits.”
The claim popped up nine months after law enforcement officials had determind no crime had been committed.
Claims of “conspiracy” among Joe Tirio, Orville Brettman, Ersel Schuster, Chuck Wheeler and Michael Rein have been made by defendats with no evidence and are irrelevant, the plaintiff’s argue.
The 2012 Illinois Supreme Court decision in Sanholm v. Kuecker is cited as definng the content of of the Pulic Participation Act.
Pointed out is that the lawsuit is not brought for “the sole purpose of chilling the defendants right to petition, speech or participation in government.”
Dismissal of the motion to dismiss is therefor sought.
A hearing on the case will be held at 1:30.