Joliet inspector general loses lawsuit against Illinois State Police

Inspector General Sean Connolly leaves the Will County Courthouse on Wednesday, April 12, 2023 in Joliet.

A Will County judge ruled that the Joliet inspector general exceeded his legal authority when he sued Illinois State Police in an attempt to force the agency to comply with his subpoena for investigation records.

On Dec. 15, Judge John Anderson issued a ruling that completely dismissed Joliet Inspector General Sean Connolly’s March 14 lawsuit against Illinois State Police.

Connolly’s subpoena sought records regarding the state police investigation into former Joliet City Council member Don Dickinson’s allegations against former Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk in 2020.

After the investigation, Dickinson was charged with falsely accusing O’Dekirk of threatening him. The special prosecutor who filed the charge made no objections to Will County Judge Victoria Breslan dismissing the case Nov. 15, 2022.

Anderson’s Dec. 15 ruling sided with Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office. His office has been defending Illinois State Police in Connolly’s lawsuit.

Ashley Lonski, an assistant attorney general for Raoul, argued that Connolly was not empowered to file a lawsuit under Joliet’s municipal code.

“Given that the [inspector general] has certain express enumerated powers and those powers do not expressly include filing lawsuits, the court must conclude that the lawsuit is improper,” Anderson said.

Anderson ruled that Connolly’s lawsuit was defective enough to earn a dismissal with prejudice. That means Connolly cannot pursue the same lawsuit again.

Judge John Anderson presides over the People v. Ferrell hearing at the Will County Annex building. Will County state’s attorneys are motioning to remove Joliet Township Trustee Karl Ferrell from the township board as they contend his past felony record disqualifies him from holding elected office. Tuesday, Mar. 30, 2022, in Joliet.

Anderson said Connolly’s powers are limited to closing an investigation. He also noted that Connolly’s powers are limited to referring matters to Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow’s office or other law enforcement authorities.

Anderson said Connolly also could refer matters to the city’s mayor or manager.

Instead of taking the issue up with the city’s legal department, Connolly decided to pursue the lawsuit against Illinois State Police himself. He spent the majority of the case trying to defend his ability to do so to both Raoul and Glasgow.

Glasgow had petitioned to intervene in Connolly’s case and asserted that Connolly’s office is unconstitutional under Illinois law. Anderson did not consider that petition in his ruling and instead focused on Raoul’s motion to toss out the lawsuit on legal grounds.

Connolly defended his lawsuit by claiming that he was given permission to file it by former Joliet City Manager James Capparelli “through the Joliet legal department.”

Anderson was not persuaded by this argument. He said Connolly did not identify “any authority reflecting that the city manager can unilaterally expand the [inspector general’s] authority beyond that which is expressly included and excluded by the ordinance.”

Anderson also ruled that he did not need to consider whether Joliet’s home-rule authority requires state police to respond to Connolly’s subpoena. He said it was because Connolly’s “actions exceed his authority” under city ordinance.