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Local

Judge: Hastert lawyer may proceed with out-of-state depositions in breach of contract case

File photo: Kendall County Chief Judge Robert Pilmer talks during a Jan. 14 court hearing at the Kendall County Courthouse in Yorkville.
File photo: Kendall County Chief Judge Robert Pilmer talks during a Jan. 14 court hearing at the Kendall County Courthouse in Yorkville.

YORKVILLE – A Kendall County judge ruled that legal counsel for former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert may continue with subpoenas for out-of-state depositions in the $1.8 million breach-of-contract case between Hastert and a man known as James Doe.

Kendall County Chief Judge Robert Pilmer overruled objections from Kristi Browne, lawyer for Doe, in allowing Hastert's counsel to pursue the out-of-state witnesses on Monday, March 2, according to Kendall County court documents. That comes after John Ellis, lawyer for Hastert, expressed his desire to depose the out-of-state witnesses this week in court documents.

"The four evidence depositions are allowed to proceed," Pilmer said in the Monday court order, according to court documents.

A list of witnesses that are anticipated to be investigated this week was not provided within court documents.

Ellis wrote in court documents that witnesses are connected to Doe, have been previously disclosed as potential trial witnesses and have "critical knowledge regarding relevant issues that have been extensively briefed by both parties before this Court." If Pilmer were to grant the objection from Doe's counsel, he wrote, it would "have the extreme effect of barring witnesses from providing trial testimony."

Ellis mentioned Doe's brother-in-law, who may be one of the out-of-state witnesses, has been disclosed as a potential witness for the trial in court documents. That comes after six other heavily redacted depositions previously were filed in court records about a year ago.

Browne and Ellis did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Record Newspapers on Thursday, March 5.

Doe, a former wrestler at Yorkville High School, is suing Hastert – who served as a congressman from 1987 to 2007 and was U.S. House Speaker between 1999 and 2007 – for not paying in full an allegedly agreed upon $3.5 million in hush money. He has accused Hastert of sexually abusing him when Hastert was a teacher and wrestling coach at the high school.

Doe is suing Hastert for $1.8 million plus interest, from December 2014 to the date of payment, in the lawsuit that has been in court for more than two years. Hastert allegedly paid Doe $1.7 million between 2010 and 2014, according to court documents. Hastert is also countersuing Doe for the amount that was already paid, alleging that Doe violated their confidentiality agreement.

A reporter from Record Newspapers was not present at the Monday hearing because the case was not listed on the Kendall County Circuit Clerk's docket. Pilmer told the news media point of contact for the case's extended media coverage request network on Thursday that he did not know of the Monday hearing occurring until attorneys for both parties appeared in court.

The case is due back in court 1 p.m. Wednesday, March 11 for arguments regarding what other evidence may be allowed or omitted from the trial. The Kendall County Circuit Clerk's docket does not list the March 11 date.

The trial is scheduled to begin April 20.

• This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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