Mayor's request for new judge denied
URBANA — Champaign Mayor Don Gerard was in court on Tuesday, this time testifying on his own behalf that the judge presiding over his dispute with ex-girlfriend Laura Huth is biased in Huth's favor.
Judge Tom Difanis, however, denied the motion to have Judge Holly Clemons removed from the case, and Huth's request for an order of protection will proceed in Clemons' court room on June 25. Meanwhile, lawyers for both sides say that movement toward a settlement has stalled.
Gerard testified that Clemons' comments in a separate case, for which Clemons ruled in Gerard's favor, made him feel that he could not get a fair hearing.
When Champaign musician Jim Bean asked for a no-contact order against Gerard after the two had an argument in a park, Clemons said Gerard was "guilty of poor judgment and ill-advised behavior" and probably has "anger-control issues," but was not guilty of a pattern of harassment that a no-contact order requires.
"It made me very concerned that I could not get a fair hearing before her," Gerard testified.
Huth's attorney, Michael Antoline, argued that Gerard can — and did — receive a fair hearing in front of Clemons.
"It is very clear that he did receive a fair hearing," Antoline told Difanis. "Judge Clemons ruled in his favor."
Gerard's attorney, Bruce Ratcliffe, declined further comment following the hearing. Antoline, however, said that accusing a judge of bias is "a serious thing," and he was arguing against the motion on principle.
He called it a "tantrum with a legal caption on it."
"Sometimes it's just a matter of push and push back," Antoline said. "I didn't want him to win this motion. When they present a motion, you oppose it."
The two attorneys have each said that the other is not making a good-faith effort toward a settlement. Antoline said Huth wants an apology and for Gerard to sign a binding contract that he will leave Huth and her business alone.
Antoline said that Huth, a former Urbana alderwoman, was willing to accept a letter of apology Gerard wrote, but she will not drop the case without Gerard's agreement to leave her alone.
Huth also has a $3,233.75 claim pending against Gerard, with whom she had a personal relationship between April 2011 and July 2012. She says Gerard owes her money for consulting work she did for him.
The money has been an issue — Ratcliffe had said that she has not been willing to budge on the number, while Antoline said on Tuesday that Gerard should make an offer.