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Yorkville

Judge grants motions to quash subpoena in Hastert case

Kendall County Judge Robert Pilmer (center) listens as John Ellis (right), Dennis Hastert's attorney, makes his arguments related to the breach-of-contract case against Hastert during a Friday, April 5 hearing at the Kendall County Courthouse in Yorkville.
Kendall County Judge Robert Pilmer (center) listens as John Ellis (right), Dennis Hastert's attorney, makes his arguments related to the breach-of-contract case against Hastert during a Friday, April 5 hearing at the Kendall County Courthouse in Yorkville.

YORKVILLE – A Kendall County judge ruled that lawyers for a former Yorkville High School wrestling team member will have to pay $2,000 to defense lawyers in the breach-of-contract case against former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert.

Judge Robert Pilmer ruled Friday, April 5 to grant the motions to quash a subpoena filed by Hastert's lawyers and Sidley Austin, who represented Hastert during his criminal sentencing for violating bank laws in 2016. He also granted the defense's motion for sanctions for related fees and costs and ordered the plaintiff's counsel to pay $2,000 to cover those costs, which included a couple dozen hours of Sidley Austin attorney time.

"It's probably not sufficient to cover the hourly rate, but I think it's substantial," Pilmer said.

The ruling comes after a man named in the civil lawsuit as James Doe has accused Hastert of sexually abusing him while Hastert was a teacher at Yorkville High School and allegedly worked out a hush-money agreement with Hastert. Hastert taught at the high school and coached wrestling between 1965 and 1981.

Hastert’s attorney, John Ellis, previously filed a motion March 7 to strike and for sanctions against Doe’s attorneys, saying the depositions – out-of-court sworn testimony – were confidential and Doe’s attorneys violated the confidentiality order by including the heavily-redacted depositions of six witnesses, including Hastert, in court filings.

Attorneys for Doe previously filed a motion to lift confidentiality designations and the issuing of a subpoena, which Hastert’s attorneys were trying to quash, to third-party law firm Sidley Austin in response to Doe’s testimony.

Ellis said during the Friday, April 5 hearing at the Kendall County Courthouse that Pilmer already denied the plaintiff's subpoena while trying to obtain the same evidence from Hastert's lawyers on a couple other occasions during a Nov. 30, 2018 hearing. He said there is no need to seek additional fact from those depositions six months later.

"This is what they asked for – this is what you already denied," Ellis said.

Pilmer also denied the motion to lift the confidentiality designations during the Friday, April 5 hearing.

Mike Haeberle, Doe's lawyer, said he describes the defense's opposition to the subpoena as a "sword and shield" type of approach, where the defense can justify using conversations with attorneys to defeud a claim but then throw up a shield of privilege to stop the plaintiff from inquiring about those conversations.

"And that's precisely what is occurring here," Haeberle said.

Haeberle and Ellis – along with representatives from Sidley Austin Law Firm – declined additional comment following the Friday, April 5 ruling.

Doe said in his deposition there was an oral agreement between him and Hastert for Doe to not tell anyone about Hastert sexually assaulting him in a motel room, according to court documents. Hastert allegedly paid Doe $1.7 million out of the agreed $3.5 million from summer 2010 through December 2014, court documents said.

The arrangement ultimately led to federal banking charges against the Plano Republican. Hastert served 13 months in federal prison on those banking charges. 

Hastert served as a Congressman from 1987 to 2007 and was U.S. House Speaker between 1999 and 2007.

Pilmer did not rule on the summary judgment, which Doe's lawyers filed March 15, during the Friday, April 5 hearing. Doe's lawyers said in the motion, which has been heavily redacted in court records, that there are no issues of fact requiring trial in this case.

"It is time for the court to grant James Doe the compensation Hastert agreed to pay," Doe's lawyers said in the summary judgment.

If the summary judgment is granted, it could mean the case does not go to trial. The motion is still pending and Hastert's lawyers also filed an opposition to the summary judgment, which is sealed within court documents.

A pre-trial conference, which is not open to the public, is scheduled for 10 a.m. May 3 in Courtroom 115 at the Kendall County Courthouse, 807 John St. If the case goes to trial, jury trial status is scheduled for 1 p.m. June 12 in the same courtroom.

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