CHICAGO | A Cook County judge said Wednesday she is wants to reach a ruling soon in a lawsuit brought by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office against Thornton Township High School District 205 board President Kenneth Williams.
The state's attorney is suing Williams, contending his felony conviction 28 years ago in Indiana for aiding or inducing a forgery makes him ineligible to hold a school board post. Voters in 2009 and again this year chose him for the School Board seat.
Associate Judge Rita Novak last month refused the state’s attorney’s request to immediately remove Williams from the post, and Williams’ attorneys have said they want a jury trial to decide the matter.
A status hearing was held Wednesday, and another is scheduled for Aug. 30.
But Novak told the attorneys she is determined for the case to not drag on in endless litigation.
“I am determined to have this resolved very soon,” Novak said.
Novak also said she has spent time in recent weeks reading through the Officials Convicted of Infamous Crimes Act to make herself more familiar with what exactly Illinois law has to say about government officials convicted of criminal offenses.
At stake is Williams’ criminal record, which consists of that one conviction for which he served 22 months in prison. He has not been found guilty of any offense since then, and he has gone on to create a business, the Silk ‘n’ Classy barber college in Dolton.
The state’s attorney’s office has said that single conviction is sufficient to make him ineligible to hold a post on a school board.
But Williams’ attorneys believe a combined reading of the school code and the Illinois election code suggest a felony conviction only removes a person from public office if the offense is done during the term in office, and Williams regained his ability to hold public office once he completed his prison sentence.
Matthew Dodge, an attorney representing Williams, declined to comment Wednesday.
Novak has said previously she does not believe the case to be as clear-cut as either side believes it to be.