Illinois Senate President Emil Jones should be added as a defendant to a lawsuit over Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s power to set the date and time of special legislative sessions, Sangamon County Circuit Judge Leo Zappa said Tuesday.

Illinois Senate President Emil Jones should be added as a defendant to a lawsuit over Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s power to set the date and time of special legislative sessions, Sangamon County Circuit Judge Leo Zappa said Tuesday.


 


Although he didn’t make a formal ruling, Zappa strongly indicated he will do that shortly, despite objections from Blagojevich’s lawyer.


 


“What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” Zappa said. “If the governor has the right to set the date and time, it will have as much impact for senators who do not show up as representatives.”


 


In August, Blagojevich sued House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, because Madigan did not have the House meet in special session at the exact date and time set by the governor. The lawsuit did not name Jones, a Blagojevich ally, as a defendant.


 


In one case, Madigan had the House meet in special session on a Saturday morning, rather than in the afternoon as Blagojevich directed, so that House members could make a quick weekend trip home to their districts. Madigan believed the governor was deliberately ordering the House to meet at inconvenient times as punishment for them not approving his legislative proposals.


 


The administration has since revised the suit, although it still wants the court to declare that Blagojevich alone has the right to set the date and time of special sessions.


 


Madigan’s lawyers argued that the latest version of the lawsuit should be dismissed because it did not include Jones, who would be affected by a court decision as much as Madigan.


 


Zappa did not dismiss the lawsuit Tuesday, but said Jones, also a Chicago Democrat, should be added as a defendant before a ruling is handed down.


 


Blagojevich lawyer Melissa Riahai countered that Jones never challenged the governor’s power to set the time and date of special sessions and should not be included as a defendant.


 


Zappa disagreed and set a hearing for April 28 to resolve the issue.


 


“My decision (on the lawsuit) will have an impact on the Senate for better or worse,” he said.


 


Zappa also set May 13 as the date for both sides to argue the case before him.


Jones’ office declined comment on the matter.


 


Doug Finke can be reached at (217) 788-1527.