Judge throws out Van Guilder civil rights suitA federal judge threw out a lawsuit this month against Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow.
The suit was in retribution for Glasgow doing his job – as is his duty – “to investigate facts and determine whether an offense has been committed,” according to the court.
Glasgow was sued in his individual capacity. Under state law, Glasgow is considered a state official, rather than county or local official. According to the court, the Illinois State Lawsuit Immunity Act provides that the state cannot be sued unless one of a limited number of exceptions applies.
The suit was filed by Rocquin Van Guilder, of Lowell, Indiana. Van Guilder was the former property manager and ex-vice president at Hanson Professional Services, the agency contracted by the Illinois Department of Transportation for managing the state-owned property set aside for a proposed airport in eastern Will County. Prior to his working for Hanson, Van Guilder worked for Earth Tech, formerly TAMS, the IDOT’s airport consultant. Van Guilder had since 1988 been the project manager for the South Suburban Airport project.
Van Guilder attempted to sue Glasgow for malicious prosecution, because Glasgow brought charges against Van Guilder and his son, Lee, who worked for his father. The suit was filed in Chicago’s Northern District Court in April 2007; just two months after the two were acquitted in a Will County court room for a misdemeanor property damage lawsuit brought by Glasgow.
Van Guilder, who claimed he suffered monetary loss and expenses, humiliation, damage to his reputation, pain, suffering, fear and anxiety, was asking for an amount in excess of $200,000 in compensatory damages and $1,000 in punitive damages.
Van Guilder’s claim that Glasgow initiated charges against him and his son for political reasons and for public relations purposes so as to bolster his standing with his constituents just didn’t pan out.
Glasgow charged the Van Guilders after a Dec. 1, 2006 incident when, in defiance of landowner Mark Baugh, a subcontractor hired by Hanson, drove heavy equipment across Baugh’s farm field.
Glasgow’s attorney Martin W. McMannaman of Lowis & Gellen LLP, Chicago, filed a motion in June to dismiss the case because as a public official and prosecutor, Glasgow enjoys immunity from prosecution.
District Court Judge Ruben Castillo held that Glasgow was immune from prosecution.
According to the court, “Under Illinois law, the state’s attorney is vested with exclusive discretion to determine whether to initiate criminal charges, and to decide which charges to bring.”