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Haine wins Appellate Court decision in favor of County; termination of Prenzler’s top appointees is upheld

The 5th District Appellate Court has rejected an appeal by two former Madison County employees who sued over their termination, Madison County State’s Attorney Tom Haine announced on Thursday [June 29, 2023].

The Appellate Court upheld a circuit judge’s dismissal of litigation filed by Robert Dorman, former director of information technology, and Douglas Hulme, former county administrator.

“The appellate justices resoundingly agreed that Hulme’s and Dorman’s long-running litigation needs be dismissed,” Haine said. “That is good news for county government and county taxpayers. Madison County and the State’s Attorney’s Office have been forced to expend considerable time and resources defending against the self-serving arguments of these two disgruntled ex-employees who were fired by an overwhelming bipartisan majority of the County Board. Our resources would be better spent serving the needs of the citizens.”

Haine continued, “We hope that after this resounding win, this issue can finally be put to rest and our local County Government can refocus on its true mission – serving taxpayers and citizens with ethics and integrity.”

In 2016, Hulme and Dorman were among the top appointments made by County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler upon taking office, filling some of the most sensitive and highest-paid positions in County Administration – county administrator and information technology director.

Their employment was terminated by a bipartisan 25-1 vote of the County Board in 2020 for “actions undertaken … outside the bounds of ethical conduct and standards that are expected” of someone in a position of leadership. Chairman Prenzler opposed their termination. Hulme claimed in an op-ed that Prenzler had “knowledge” of his actions, that they were done with full “authority,” and his “findings were conveyed to Chairman Prenzler.”

Soon after their termination, Dorman and Hulme filed litigation against the County, seeking a review of their termination and reinstatement to their positions. Former State’s Attorney Tom Gibbons’ office, and then after his election, State’s Attorney Haine’s office, defended the case. In 2022, after more than a year of litigation, Hulme’s and Dorman’s claims were dismissed in their entirety by a Circuit Court judge.

The Appellate Court’s opinion issued June 15 fully upholds that dismissal, stating in part that the plaintiffs “failed to cite any law whatsoever in response to the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, choosing instead only to respond with five conclusory allegations/general statements instead of articulating more detailed support for their position.”

Haine commended the work of part-time Assistant State’s Attorney John Gilbert as well as the entire Civil Division, which includes Assistant State’s Attorney David Livingstone (Chief) and Assistant State’s Attorney Evan Franklin.

The litigation began prior to Haine taking office. The State’s Attorney’s Office, by statute, serves as legal counsel for County government.

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