A former Joliet city councilman charged with lying about the mayor filed to have the misdemeanor dismissed, contending the complaint does not allege he committed an actual crime.
On Thursday, Frank Andreano, attorney for Don “Duck” Dickinson, 61, filed a motion to dismiss the charge of attempt obstruction of justice that was filed by Special Prosecutor Bill Elward in connection with a Nov. 2, 2020 incident.
Elward’s criminal complaint alleged Dickinson – with the intent to commit obstruction of justice– performed a “substantial step toward the commission of that act” by knowingly providing false information to the police as to the conduct of Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, 52.
The false information given to police was that O’Dekirk had threatened Dickinson, the complaint said.
Andreano’s motion said the charge did not make it clear whether this case is “one of heated political words exchanged (or not exchanged) between rivals or an actual threat which the Illinois Criminal Code forbids.”
“Without the charging instrument stating the particular ‘threat’ which was (or was not conveyed), the charge at issue does not state an offense,” Andreano said.
Andreano argued there is “no general ‘lying to the police’ offense” in Illinois. He said the obstruction of justice charge involves a person providing false information with the intent to prevent the apprehension or obstruct the prosecution or defense of any person.
“Not only is there no allegation of a criminal investigation, prosecution or apprehension which the defendant allegedly attempted to foil, the term ‘threat’ is a generic descriptor that does not necessarily connote a criminal act,” Andreano said.
Andreano said if a politician were to threaten to withhold support for a legislative item, reveal embarrassing information about a rival or threaten to remove a lawmaker from a committee or appointment, such a threat would “not be a criminal act and thus not a police matter.”
Andreano cited a 2015 federal court appellate decision to overturn some of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s convictions “for items such as logrolling, favor swapping and trying to use political appointment power to bargain for an ambassador position.”
“In sum, not every unsavory act or statement is a criminal act. … In fact, hyperbole and political threats are the coin-of-the-realm of a competitive electoral system, just as much as logrolling, favor swapping and legislative accommodations,” Andreano said.
In November 2020, Dickinson filed a police complaint against O’Dekirk in regard to alleged intimidation concerning nude photos of Dickinson. O’Dekirk denied any involvement and called the accusation “a political stunt.”