On Dec. 11, Algonquin Township Highway Commissioner Andrew Gasser appeared in Lake County court with his $400-an-hour Woodstock attorney, Robert Hanlon, to argue why he shouldn’t be held in contempt of court.
However, Hanlon failed to meet the court’s deadline to file a response to the charge, according to a transcript of the court proceedings obtained by the Northwest Herald.
“I failed to meet the deadline because it was misdocketed at my office,” Hanlon said. “I put a call into my opposing counsel yesterday. He responded to me yesterday that he couldn’t grant me a courtesy of an extension.”
Gasser and Hanlon could not be reached for comment.
On Sept. 20, Lake County Circuit Judge Daniel L. Jasica granted a request from the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 to compel arbitration after the dismissal of a lawsuit Gasser launched in an attempt to invalidate a union contract his predecessor signed. Local 150’s counsel reached out to the highway department to begin that arbitration process, but they received no response. The radio silence led Local 150 to push for Gasser to be held in contempt for failing to sort out grievances related to the firings and wages of several union workers he fired after taking office.
“You know, this is not a trivial thing,” Hanlon told the judge. “And frankly, the reason that it wasn’t done was by my mistake, and my client’s here. I’ve explained to him that I’ve made a mistake, and it’s his liberty interests that are at stake too, which is because I made a mistake, and that’s why I’m asking.”
Hanlon, whose firm has billed the road district more than $400,000 since June 2017, asked for more time.
Local 150 attorney Rob Paszta objected.
“It’s almost six weeks since we were last together,” he said. “Nov. 20 was the deadline.”
Hanlon said he found motions from Local 150 in his “junk email.” It’s an excuse Hanlon has used in court before.
“I don’t believe this is the first time that we’ve had a deadline that you have failed to meet in this case,” Jasica said. “I think it’s happened on several occasions previously.”
Hanlon and Gasser are due in Lake County court at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 10.