Campton Hills trustee-elect Timothy Morgan vows to be seated despite 2002 Michigan DUI conviction

Campton Hills trustee-elect Timothy Morgan has reversed course and taken his oath of office with plans of being seated on the village board next week, despite a 2002 felony DUI conviction in Michigan, he said.

Morgan previously deferred taking his oath of office at the May 2 Campton Hills Village Board meeting because Kane County State's Attorney Jamie Mosser had warned him that a 2002 felony DUI conviction in Michigan made him ineligible.

"I am going to the next meeting and they better have an extra seat for me," Morgan said Wednesday. "That seat is mine to take."

Morgan provided a copy of his oath.

The village also provided a copy in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

When the other winning candidates in the April 4 consolidated election were sworn in at the May 2 meeting, Village Board President Barbara Wojnicki read a letter from Morgan's then-attorney Joseph McMahon reading he would not take the oath and the seat would be declared vacant.

Mosser also told village officials at the time that Morgan was ineligible to hold municipal office in Illinois because of his past felony conviction.

After consulting with other attorneys, however, Morgan said he changed his mind. He sent a letter to village officials noting that McMahon no longer represented him.

Morgan said he was rescinding the earlier letter and declaring he would be sworn in and take office.

McMahon said he could not comment.

"Professional responsibilities do not allow me to respond about my former client," McMahon said.

Michigan records show Morgan had fulfilled all his requirements following a 2002 DUI conviction, including probation, community service and a fine. Morgan also was ordered to use a breathalyzer in his vehicle for a year and not to possess or drink alcoholic beverages during that time.

Attorney Kenneth Shepro, who was appointed the Campton Hills Village Board's legislative parliamentarian, said when Morgan took the oath of office and filed it with the village clerk, that was "the only formality that was necessary to claim his seat."

"We presume he will appear in person at the meeting and claim he is lawfully entitled to his seat," Shepro said.

If a petition is filed seeking to remove Morgan from office, the court could order him to be seated; he could be seated until the merits of the case are decided; or a judge may decide that Morgan can't be seated until the merits are decided, Shepro said.

But there's another consideration: The 3rd District Appellate Court in Ottawa on April 27 upheld a Will County judge's ruling that Joliet Township Trustee Karl Ferrell is not qualified to hold township elected office because of three drug-related felonies and a felony for the unlawful possession of a weapon by a felon. Another case of an elected trustee in Algonquin Township with a 3-year-old felony conviction for intimidation is pending in McHenry County.

Morgan said the Joliet case does not apply to him because "those were infamous crimes."

He added, he didn't know how to answer regarding the Algonquin case because "the statutes we're looking at show that I can hold office."

The Illinois Municipal Code states a person is not eligible for a municipal office if he or she "has been convicted in any court located in the United States of any infamous crime, bribery, perjury, or other felony ..."

The sentence continues - which is the part Morgan is relying on: "unless such person is again restored to his or her rights of citizenship that may have been forfeited under Illinois law as a result of a conviction, which includes eligibility to hold elected municipal office, by the terms of a pardon for the offense, has received a restoration of rights by the Governor, or otherwise according to law."

Morgan said he had voters in mind when deciding to pursue getting seated on the board.

"I did my time and everything I had to do and then some," Morgan said. "I'm doing what I think has to be done for the voters."

As to how the April 27 appellate decision would apply in Morgan's case, Shepro said "it would be inappropriate for me to comment on that at this time.

"The village attorney and I agree he will be seated Tuesday unless there is some order from the court."

Wojnicki said she plans to allow Morgan to be seated Tuesday.

"If it goes before a judge, then a judge will decide," Wojnicki said. "He's got what he needs and he got elected. Of course we will let him sit down."

Matthew Dietrich, a spokesman for the Illinois Board of Elections, said the board does not have anything to do with whether a candidate for office can be sworn in and seated.

"This is not covered under election law," Dietrich said. "This is covered under qualifications for office and the state's attorney is the one who has to enforce that."

Mosser did not respond to an email asking if her office would seek to stop Morgan from serving as trustee.

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