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KloecknerRod Kloeckner    Order of Protection cases in Clinton County have been on the rise in recent years. In 2018, those cases hit their apex.
    Clinton County Circuit Clerk Rod Kloeckner reports 140 Order of Protection cases were filed in 2018, an all-time high for Clinton County. It’s the third consecutive year a record has been set, surpassing 2016 (128 cases) and 2017 (133 cases).
    “What it represents is a trend across our circuit and really, the entire state,” Kloeckner said. “It seems most counties are seeing a spike in OPs.”
    Clinton County is part of the 4th Judicial Circuit, which consists of Christian, Clay, Effingham, Fayette, Jasper, Marion, Montgomery and Shelby counties. Christian County, which is nearly identical in population to Clinton County, had 376 OPs filed while Montgomery had 268 and Marion 184.
    Kloeckner thinks one of the reasons for the rise in OPs is the proliferation of social media.
    “We’ve had a number of people come in wanting an OP because they are being called names or feel they are being harassed on Facebook, Twitter, by text messaging or whatever,” he said. “Orders of protection are meant to address true emergencies and true cases of abuse or harassment, not bad behavior on social media or just in general.”
    Of the 140 OPs filed last year, 29 were denied Emergency Orders of Protection by the judiciary. Of the 111 that were granted on an emergency basis for 14 to 21 days, only 41 received a Plenary Order of Protection, which lasts up to two years. A Plenary Order is issued by a judge after a hearing with both the petitioner (the person seeking safety) and the respondent (the person accused of abuse).
    The petitioner must be present in court to get the order. Although the person accused of the abuse must be notified about the hearing, they may choose not to show up.
    “We get that quite a bit – where either the petitioner or the respondent – fails to appear at the plenary hearing,” Kloeckner said. “If the petitioner doesn’t show up, the case is dismissed. If the respondent doesn’t show up, a default judgment can be entered. OPs are serious business and should be taken as such.”

BrechnerCarl Brechner    Former village of Keyesport mayor Carl Brechner filed a statement of candidacy and an independent candidate petition on Nov. 14, 2018, with the intention of running for mayor of Keyesport in the election on April 2 of this year. This week, Brechner withdrew his application after a concerned citizen filed a formal complaint.
    Brechner, who served 14 months as Keyesport mayor, resigned in summer 2018 after a Miscellaneous Remedy case was filed against him by Clinton County State’s Attorney John Hudspeth and Bond County State’s Attorney Christopher Bauer. 
    The case accused Brechner of unlawfully holding the office of mayor as he was convicted of Class 2 felony burglary in St. Clair County in 1991 and Class 3 posession of methamphetamine in 2006. Paul Bailey of the Keyesport Municipal Office Electoral Board took up the position after Brechner’s resignation.
    Shortly after Brechner filed to run in the election, Keyesport resident Paul Anthony Cox stepped up to demand the board formally renounce Brechner’s ability to hold public office. Cox filed formal complaints with the Clinton County court for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief on Jan. 11. The document was filed against Brechner and Bailey, as well as village clerk Terri Rule and board member Walter Geaschel.
    The complaint reminds those involved that “pursuant to 65 ILCS 5/3.1-10-5, ‘a person is not eligible to take the oath of office for a municipal office if that person ... has been convicted in any court located in the U.S. of any infamous crime, bribery, perjury, or other felony.’”
    The complaint continues to state that Cox filed an objection petition regarding Brechner’s candidacy on Dec. 21. According to Illinois law, Bailey was supposed to, within 24 hours of receiving the objection, “send a call by registered or certified mail to each member of the electoral board, to Cox, and to Brechner, which call shall set out the fact that the electoral board is rewired to meet to hear and pass upon the objections, and shall state the day, hour and place at which the electoral board shall meet for such purposes.” According to the complaint, no notice was given and the meeting did not occur. 
    Cox’s complaint accuses the board of having “refused to perform their statutory obligation of hearing the objection petition” and requests that the Clinton County court declare officially that Brechner is ineligible for the position and remove his name as a candidate for mayor.
    The Keyesport board received and approved Brechner’s withdrawal of candidacy on Monday, Jan. 14. The board believes Cox’s complaint will be dropped following the resignation.

    Illinois State Police arrested two North Carolina residents last week for drug trafficking following a number of drug charges.
    Donald Rayfield Hicklin, 26, and Morgan Nicole Fowler, 21, both of Charlotte, North Carolina, were charged in Clinton County Circuit Court with drug trafficking on Jan. 8.
    Hicklin and Fowler were each  charged with unlawful possession with the intent to deliver cannabis, a Class X felony, cannabis trafficking and unlawful possession of cannabis, both Class 1 felonies, and unlawful possession of a controlled substance, a Class 4 felony.
    According to the court documents, filed Jan. 9, Hicklin and Fowler allegedly possessed and brought to the state of Illinois from the state of Colorado, more than 5,000 grams of a substance containing cannabis with the intent to deliver, and also possessed a substance commonly known as Ecstasy.
    Hicklin was also charged with a second Class 4 felony charge of unlawful possession of a controlled substance for allegedly possessing Alprazolam.
    Fowler is currently out of jail on bond. Bond was set at $100,000 for Fowler, and 10 percent, or $10,000, of the bond was posted on Jan. 10. A first appearance with her attorney is set for Jan. 23 at 9 a.m.
    Bond was set for Hicklin at $250,000. As of press time, Hicklin was still in jail on bond. A first appearance with his attorney was set for Jan. 16 at 9 a.m.
    Both Fowler and Hicklin were ordered to not have contact with one another.

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