On January 10, 2019 arguments were heard in the 18th Circuit Court of Illinois regarding several motions filed by Bill against the plaintiffs in the lawsuits against him that were dismissed a year ago. He asked for sanctions against 7 of the original 17 plaintiffs to get back some of the attorney expenses incurred, also against their legal firm for allowing a “frivolous lawsuit” to be filed. In addition and in response the plaintiffs had filed a motion for a protective order against Bill, his lawyers, members of Discovering Grace and others that had been helping with Bill’s defense.
Of the 7 plaintiffs cited, 6 came to Chicago and testified (the 7th lives in New Zealand and plead hardship). The judge imposed some severe restrictions on the proceedings, including not allowing formal opening or closing statements and limiting consideration of each plaintiff to 40 minutes, which both sides found strange. That is a like telling football coaches just before the game that each side starts on the 20 yard line without a kickoff, you have 3 downs instead of 4, and there will be no points after touchdown . . . Dramatically changes the strategy and carefully prepared plays. That adds to any number of other strange things.
1) The judge denied the request for a Protective Order. Nothing Bill, his lawyers, Discovering Grace have done is improper, citing First Amendment rights and general law.
2). He denied all requests to sanction the plaintiffs or their law firm. The matter considered here was whether a reasonable, professional attorney would even file these charges, not whether the charges were true. He concluded that the attorneys for the plaintiffs had not been professionally negligent, and that although never progressing to the point of determining truthfulness, the lawsuit filing was not “frivolous”.
Obviously we disagree with the “frivolous” aspect. There is much debriefing going on and we filed this before hearing all of the defense team analysis. They will be pouring over the transcript of this very long day. We would not be surprised to see some formal legal reaction given a number of unusual aspects.
The Lord was there and in charge. Please pray for wisdom in any next steps. While all are weary we spoke with Bill and he remains resolute in purpose to formally clear his name one way or the other as much harm has come from these baseless accusations. We will give a further analysis and details as we receive them, likely modifying this post with updates. We have been promised a transcript, although the same will be substantial in size compared to what other hearings generated. Regardless we hope to make that available publicly. Thanks to all who have been praying for Bill and for us, for IBLP, and the plaintiffs and all concerned.