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Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013 03:33 pm

Judicial politics

Ex court worker claims revenge for backing ousted judge

Sangamon County Chief Judge Leslie Graves’ former assistant is suing her and a court administrator in federal court, saying Graves fired her in retaliation for supporting another judge in an investigative hearing. The former assistant is also suing the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts, claiming a violation of federal labor law.

Autumn Tibbs of Springfield began working as a Graves assistant in the Sangamon County Courthouse in January 2002. In May 2012, Tibbs testified in favor of former Sangamon County associate judge Robert Hall at an investigative hearing before the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission. Hall had been accused in June 2010 of making a ticket disappear for the daughter of a fellow judge, and he retired in the wake of the investigation.

Tibbs alleges Graves and court administrator Barbara Mabie “were not supportive” of Hall, so when Tibbs returned from an approved three-month medical leave in August 2012, they immediately put her on administrative leave. Tibbs was fired the next month while still on leave.

Tibbs filed her lawsuit against Graves and Mabie on July 8, alleging that they violated her First Amendment right to free speech by retaliating against her for testifying on Hall’s behalf.

Calls and an email to Springfield attorney John Baker, who represents Tibbs, were not returned. Graves also did not return phone calls seeking comment, and it appears she has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit.

Tibbs is seeking an unspecified amount of damages exceeding $10,000 and has requested a jury trial.

Contact Patrick Yeagle at pyeagle@illinoistimes.com.
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