Former Illinois State’s Attorney Given 60-Day Suspension For Dodging Service and Then Pulling Gun on Process Server

Former Union County State’s Attorney Allen W. James has been suspended for 60 days after pulling a gun on a process server after dodging prior service. Christopher Dees reported that he identified himself to James who proceeded to point his 380 semi-automatic handgun at him while trying to serve a complaint upon him. James insisted that he did nothing wrong, though he later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor aggravated assault over the incident.

The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission panel gave an account of the underlying facts:

After the Respondent arrived home from work on the evening of March 18, 2008, someone came to the front door, but the Respondent did not go to the door. (Tr. 25-26). The Respondent saw a dark green over gray van parked in his driveway, behind the Respondent’s truck. (Tr. 123-24). He called the Anna Police Department and spoke with the dispatcher, Danny Holdman. The Respondent identified himself and stated that he knew the police were busy because of heavy rain and flooding. He asked that, if “somebody has time,” could an officer asked the driver to move the van in the driveway because the Respondent was going to be leaving. He also mentioned to the dispatcher that the person parked in his driveway was the process server who had gone to his office earlier. The Respondent acknowledged that he did not want to cooperate with the process server. The Respondent never saw the process server that evening. (Tr. 27, 124-25).

On the following day, March 19, 2008, the Respondent left for work at 7:25 a.m., and drove to the courthouse parking lot. (Tr. 28, 128). He parked at the “lower end” of the lot. It was raining “pretty good” and, when he got out of his truck, he opened a golf umbrella. He walked up the hill toward the side door of the courthouse, which was between 120 and 150 feet away. (Tr. 129-30, 254). While he was walking, he had his head down and was thinking about his upcoming murder trial. (Tr. 131). He heard a noise behind him, turned, and saw a van come into the parking lot. The van “came speeding up the parking lot,” went past the Respondent, and pulled into a parking space ahead of him. (Tr. 132). He said this was not the same van that was parked in his driveway the night before. (Tr. 123-24). The Respondent saw a man get out of the van and “come running” or “trotting” toward the Respondent “fairly quickly.” (Tr. 133, 254). At first, the Respondent thought the man was a “meth cook” named Rusty Smith. But, when the man got closer, Respondent knew it was not Smith. (Tr. 133, 136). The man had his left hand under a fleece he was wearing. (Tr. 133). The Respondent’s hand was in a pocket where his gun was located. He pulled the gun out, and said “stay back, I don’t know who are.” (Tr. 134-35). The Respondent denied that he pointed his gun at the man, but said the gun was “pointed in his direction.” (Tr. 137, 156-57). The man kept coming toward the Respondent, and pulled out something that looked like a wallet. He flung open the wallet, showed the Respondent a “white card with red across the top,” and said he was a process server. (Tr. 134-35, 137, 154). The Respondent did not see a badge. (Tr. 254). At that point, the Respondent thought the man was “probably the process server.” (Tr. 154). The Respondent, while still holding his gun in his hand, again said “stay back, I don’t know who you are.” (Tr. 135, 154-55). The man came closer to the Respondent, said “I’m serving these papers” and tossed them down at the Respondent’s feet. (Tr. 135, 255). The Respondent said “get back,” and the man turned and went back to his vehicle. (Tr. 135). As the Respondent was walking up the steps to the side door of the courthouse the same man came near the handrail and said “I’m a process server, you can’t pull a gun on me, I’m going to go to the sheriff’s department.” The Respondent replied “go ahead.” (Tr. 135).

So James admitted to dodging service of process and knew that the van that he saw previously was probably the same server. He was being sued by Billie Henderson as his former secretary over her termination.

James ran for reelection while charged with felonies but was defeated. James is now in private practice in Anna, Illinois.

Notably, when he was elected in 2004, James insisted “I think it’s time that the state’s attorney’s office quits being the talk of the county. I don’t desire the office to be the focal point of the community, and I don’t desire to be the focal point of the community. I think people are ready for that – a calm state’s attorney’s office.” Well, that did not quite work out.

Source: ABA Journal

12 thoughts on “Former Illinois State’s Attorney Given 60-Day Suspension For Dodging Service and Then Pulling Gun on Process Server”

  1. Mike Spindell, Rafflaw, those tickets to “former attorney land” are very expensive, and unless a complainant in one of those judicial fitness actions has money for a “private jet,” there will not be a ride for the guy in most cases. I see for instance in DC that a solo practitioner with a distinctly foreign sounding name gets a 60-day suspension for refusing to turn over a client’s file to him for FIVE (5) days (count’em, one, two, three, four, five) and yet a big law firm that refuses to turn over their notes of conversations with the adversary, AFTER they dismiss a client’s case without notice to the client, is not being held accountable after the complaint has sat in the Bar Disciplinary Committee for over six months. Furthermore, the defense offered is that the law firm decided the documents were “not relevant.” Furthermore, the fact that these complaint “agencies” are secret means that when a client files a complaint, he or she cannot inform others about it. In my case, I grieved lawyers for unethical behavior (and a well known professor emeritus at a Law School who teaches attorney ethics agreed with my position) and they refused to rule at all. (DC Bar Counsel, very political) Furthermore, the law firm itself revealed, in a public document, the fact that I had grieved them, as if it proved something BAD about ME! I had kept it confidential because I was required by law to do so.

    I have seen attorneys disbarred, of course. They get disbarred if they use a wealthy client’s money from their trust account; they get disbarred if they get aggressive against a judge who has done something he or she wishes to hide; they get disbarred if they are about to uncover some kind of a nest of thieves, while somebody in that nest has it well feathered.

    In general, they get disbarred if they have no power. AND ONLY THOSE who have no power are at risk of getting disbarred.

    In California, Judge Donna Fields-Goldstein kept a document called “step-mother’s petition to the court on why to change custody” in her chambers, secret, out of the file, from October 2008 until August 2009, when it was accidentally discovered and revealed. It had never been served. The “step-mother” involved was very wealthy. The document was a 52-page document putting all kinds of information (more than half of it provably wrong) in front of the judge, and the judge acted on it, awarding custody in accordance with its express request, on January 9, 2009, without a hearing, without making any findings on the best interests of the child, and without notice. That judge, grieved to the bar committee, escaped censure. She stayed on the case and kept ruling in spite of a duly served and filed motion for disqualification, thanks to a litigious trick called a “strike/answer” in which a judge gets to decide her own disqualification by putting in two simultaneous responsive pleadings: one striking the motion for disqualification and the other answering it, just in case. Nobody in the appellate courts allowed a constitutional challenge to this obviously unconstitutional method of denying a litigant’s First Amendment rights to petition her government for redress of wrongs.

    Stuff like this happens on a daily basis in every courthouse in the country. The lies and corruption are so obvious that it is silly to even write about it any more. You need a dead body and a nation-wide protest movement just to bring up corrupt COPS in a murder case. It’s all gone too far. And there is no way to bring anything back, not even skittles.

  2. If he did not know who the advancing party was is one thing. Pulling a gun in that neck of the woods on a person coming at you at some rate of speed is reasonable. The guy sounds a bit of a nut case, which is par for the course in that neck of the woods. In that very courthouse I saw a judge hear a preliminary hearing on an alleged possession of firearm in car case. The gun had been in the glove box. The judge asked the defendant if it was indeed a Glock. Handed it over the bench to the defendant and dismissed the case. When the State Trooper walked out in a miff, and was out of earshot the judge said something about overzeaousness. The guy had been pulled over for having a dead deer in the trunk of the car with a hoof sticking out. He said he found it in the road and was taking it home. Nice piece the judge said, referring to the weapon. The guy stuck the gun in his coat pocket and walked out of the courtroom. Same place, Union County, Anna, IL.

    James Loewen has a book called Sundown Towns. It is about towns across the country in which African Americans should not let the sun go down and they still be in town. Anna, IL gets a real good review. If one Googles that phrase: Sundown Towns, one will see a blurb about Anna and what the initials can be contrived to stand for. This area is in the hilly portion of Southern Illinois and is far different than the flat cornfields which one normally associates with that state.

  3. raff,

    Is this still the law in IL?

    Criminal Offenses
    Criminal Code of 1961
    (720 ILCS 5/31-3)
    Sec. 31-3. Obstructing service of process.
    Whoever knowingly resists or obstructs the authorized service or execution of any civil or criminal process or order of any court commits a Class B misdemeanor.

  4. “Doesn’t an attorney have a duty to cooperate with the judicial process, even if it is brought against him?”


    This was sort of my question also. Is there a legal penalty for avoiding a process server? If the attorney didn’t pull the gun, but ran away after seeing the document proffered was he violating a duty to be served if you’re confronted. I’ve been served twice in my life and both times happened so unexpectedly and quickly that I just accepted the service bemusedly. I didn’t think I had the right to dodge it.

  5. Dog,
    the attorney admitted to realizing it was the process server and he still held the gun on him. Doesn’t an attorney have a duty to cooperate with the judicial process, even if it is brought against him?

  6. I dont see a problem with pulling a gun on a stalker whether at your home or at the Anna, IL courthouse. Second Amendment: right to arm bears. That is a rough county. In 1975 I got chased out of the same parking lot by twenty members of one side of a feuding family after a court hearing on custody of a child. The judge gave us a ten minute head start but that was not enough as some of the clan were already outside the courtroom waiting. I wish I had a shot gun at the time but I did not. Started carrying thereafter when I went to that courthouse. Of course that was back in my prior incarnation as a human. Just a dog talkin here.

  7. I am amazed that the Fitness Committee didn’t give him a more severe suspension. If it was up to me, I would have given him a ticket to former attorney land.

  8. Doesn’t IL have one of those laws with mandated sentences for any crime committed with a hand gun? Seems he should be in line for at lest a couple of years catching up with old friends at Pinckneyville

  9. Called the police to get a van out of his driveway because he had to go to work? Idiocy, or more likely the arrogance of office, I suppose.

  10. The ABA pub said:

    James was initially charged with two felonies following the March 19, 2008 incident but found guilty only of misdemeanor aggravated assault. He was required to pay a $1,500 fine and forfeit the pistol, but was to have his record wiped clean once he successfully completed a 12-month period of supervision.

    Professor Turley points out that he was also “suspended for 60 days” … or it was recommended.

    But from what … practice of law?

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