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McFatridge v. Madigan

Supreme Court of Illinois

May 23, 2013

MICHAEL M. McFATRIDGE et al., Appellees,
v.
LISA M. MADIGAN, Appellant.

Held [*]

Where a former State’s Attorney was sued for damages by individuals he had prosecuted, the State Employee Indemnification Act gave him a right, as an elected official, to retain his own counsel, but his mandamus action for the Attorney General to approve payment of his litigation expenses as they were incurred was properly dismissed where her refusal to do so was based on her determination that what was alleged was intentional, willful or wanton misconduct, although indemnification could take place later should a court or jury find otherwise.

Appeal from the Appellate Court for the Fourth District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County, the Hon. Patrick J. Londrigan, Judge, presiding.

Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, of Springfield (Michael A. Scodro, Appeal Solicitor General, of Chicago, of counsel), for appellant.

Michael E. Raub, of Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen, of Urbana, and Terry A. Ekl, of Ekl Williams, PLLC, of Lisle, for appellees.

Sarah O'Rourke Schrup, of Chicago, and Sidley Austin LLP, of Washington, D.C. (Jeffrey T. Green and Elizabeth McEachron, of counsel), for amicus curiae Illinois Campaign for Political Reform.

Lisa Anne Hoffman, of Wheaton, for amicus curiae Illinois State's Attorneys' Association.

Justices JUSTICE BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Chief Justice Kilbride and Justices Freeman, Thomas, Garman, Karmeier, and Theis concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

BURKE JUSTICE

¶ 1 At issue in this appeal is whether section 2(b) of the State Employee Indemnification Act (the Act) (5 ILCS 350/2(b) (West 2010)) requires the state to pay the litigation expenses of an elected state official who has been sued in the course of his official duties. Plaintiffs, Michael McFatridge and the County of Edgar, filed a complaint for a writ of mandamus (see 735 ILCS 5/14-101 et seq. (West 2010)) in the circuit court of Sangamon County to compel defendant, Lisa M. Madigan, Attorney General of the State of Illinois (Attorney General), to approve payment by the state of all litigation expenses incurred by McFatridge in the defense of civil litigation. The circuit court dismissed the complaint, finding plaintiffs failed to establish a clear and undoubted right to relief. The appellate court reversed. 2011 IL App (4th) 100936. We now reverse the appellate court and affirm the circuit court's dismissal of the complaint.

¶ 2 Background

¶ 3 McFatridge served as State's Attorney of Edgar County during the years 1980 to 1991. In 1987, McFatridge prosecuted Gordon "Randy" Steidl and Herbert Whitlock for the 1986 murders of Dyke and Karen Rhoads in Paris, Illinois. Steidl was convicted by a jury of both murders and received a death sentence, which was later reduced to a sentence of life imprisonment. Whitlock was convicted by a jury of the murder of Karen Rhoads and was sentenced to life imprisonment.

¶ 4 Both Steidl and Whitlock succeeded in having their convictions overturned. In Steidl's case, on June 17, 2003, the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois granted his habeas corpus petition, vacated his conviction, and ordered that he be retried within 120 days or released from prison. Steidl v. Walls, 267 F.Supp.2d 919 (C.D. Ill. 2003). In Whitlock's case, on September 6, 2007, the Illinois Appellate Court reversed his conviction and remanded for a new trial. People v. Whitlock, 374 Ill.App.3d 1144 (2007) (unpublished order under Supreme Court Rule 23). Both Steidl and Whitlock have since been released from custody and have not been retried.

ΒΆ 5 In May 2005, Steidl filed a complaint in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois against several individuals and entities involved in his prosecution, including McFatridge and Edgar County. He alleged civil rights violations under the federal and state constitutions, as well as various state law causes of action, including malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Among other allegations, Steidl alleged that McFatridge, individually, jointly, and in conspiracy with his codefendants, fabricated false evidence, coerced and manipulated witness testimony, and suppressed favorable evidence, resulting in Steidl's convictions and imprisonment. In April 2009, Whitlock filed an amended complaint in the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois ...


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