It will be at least February before an initial ruling is made in a lawsuit filed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich against House Speaker Michael Madigan over the governor’s power to set the date and time of special sessions.

It will be at least February before an initial ruling is made in a lawsuit filed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich against House Speaker Michael Madigan over the governor’s power to set the date and time of special sessions.

Sangamon County Circuit Judge Leo Zappa Monday set a new schedule for the case. Under that tietable, the next hearing won’t be held until Feb. 1, when attorneys will argue over Madigan’s motion to dismiss the suit.

Even when a ruling is made, it won’t conclude the case, Zappa acknowledged.

“One side or the other is going to appeal,” Zappa said from the bench. “I’m not naïve enough to think this is going to end with me.”

At the outset of Monday’s hearing, Zappa said he wants the case to get moving.

“I want to get this over with. I think the citizens of the state want to get this over with,” Zappa said.

The Blagojevich administration in August asked the courts to declare that the governor has the power to set not only the date of special sessions, but the time of day that they are to start. In early July, Madigan had the House meet on a Saturday morning, rather than Saturday afternoon, as Blagojevich had directed.

Then, in mid-August, after the House passed a new state budget, Madigan told members to ignore a Blagojevich proclamation calling them back into special session the next day.

The Blagojevich lawsuit also wants the court to order that Madigan see that a majority of the House attends special sessions called by the governor.

Madigan’s lawyers responded with a 58-page motion outlining why the lawsuit should be dismissed. They said Blagojevich had misused his authority, calling special sessions at inconvenient times "for the apparent purpose of doing nothing more than punishing lawmakers who refused to pass his preferred legislation.”

During a hearing Monday, Blagojevich’s lawyers said the motion was more “public relations fodder” than a document raising legal issues.

“We think much of it is irrelevant,” said William Quinlan, Blagojevich’s general counsel.

Madigan lawyer David Ellis called the move a “stalling tactic.”

“They are doing everything they can to delay this,” Ellis said.

“I filed the complaint. I’m not trying to delay,” Quinlan responded.

Zappa told Blagojevich’s lawyers to file a written response to Madigan’s motion. He said he will consider that and Madigan’s response during the Feb 1 hearing.



Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527 or doug.finke@sj-r.com