Former La Salle County State’s Attorney Brian Towne has re-filed his lawsuit — this time in state court — against his successor, the county and the city of Ottawa.
Thursday, Towne sued Karen Donnelly and the two governments in La Salle County Circuit Court. His allegations are substantially the same as what he’d previously alleged in federal court: That the criminal charges brought against him in 2017 (and later dismissed) were steeped in personal animus and not founded in fact.
Trial dates are pending. For now, the case is assigned to La Salle County Circuit Judge Joseph P. Hettel; but Hettel has long professional ties to Towne and is likely to recuse himself from the case.
An attorney for Donnelly and the county said he had not yet been served with the lawsuit and declined comment. An attorney for Ottawa did not return a message seeking comment.
Towne had initially sued in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, based in Chicago. Last week a federal judge dismissed most of his allegations with prejudice because the two-year statute of limitations ran out — Towne sued three years after being charged — and because Towne wasn’t jailed before trial, undercutting claims that his civil liberties were curtailed.
But the judge did leave Towne a way to pursue several counts in another venue. Now pending in state court are malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress and conspiracy.
Towne had been charged in La Salle County with official misconduct in 2017, a year after he was voted out of office. When the charges were dismissed in 2019 over a speedy-trial rights violation, he sued Donnelly, several assistant state’s attorneys and Ottawa police. Towne alleged they collectively schemed to obtain criminal indictments “that were not supported by facts or the law.”