“This settlement between the county and the Mendoza and Lawrence families has been sealed from public view,” Bailey said. “The public still does not know and the question is, why? The availability of court files for public scrutiny is essential so the public can monitor the court system, which is for the benefit of the citizens of this county. It is impossible for citizens to monitor the honesty and integrity when court settlements are sealed. Taxpayers have a right to know what settlements are being made on their behalf and what they are paying.”
Villarreal said Tuesday the Mendoza and Lawrence families requested the settlement amount to be sealed from public view through their legal counsel. She said it was not the county’s decision to seal the record.
“We ask that the victims and their families’ wishes be respected,” Villarreal said. “It was sealed pursuant to that agreement.”
Bailey also alleged Villarreal is costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars by hiring outside legal counsel to represent the county when the state’s attorney’s office could represent the county in civil matters. Accounts payable documents from the county show $393,000 was paid to private attorneys from Dec. 1, 2018, through Nov. 30, 2019.
“I feel an injustice has occurred that affects all of the citizens of Rock Island County,” Bailey said. “Accountability is essential for citizens to trust their judgment. We currently have three full-time civil attorneys in the Rock Island County state’s attorney’s office. Their collective salaries are $250,000 a year and does not include benefits. It is the duty of these three attorneys to represent the county on any civil matters pending.”