Court rules against man filing serial lawsuits

Derick Turner last appeared in Sangamon County Circuit Court on May 24, 2022. He spoke with an Illinois Times reporter after the hearing but later sued both the reporter and newspaper, alleging that a subsequent article was defamatory.

A 32-year-old Springfield man identified by authorities as an anti-government "sovereign citizen" lost his appeal to overturn a lower-court decision Sangamon County prosecutors obtained in 2022 to stop his alleged harassment of them.

The unanimous May 2 decision from a three-member panel of Illinois Appellate Court judges dismissing Derick L. Turner's appeal affirmed an Aug. 26 ruling by Judge Scott Kording against Turner.

Kording, a McLean County judge assigned to preside in the Sangamon County civil case, granted a request for summary judgment made by Sangamon County State's Attorney Dan Wright, Assistant State's Attorney Haley Botts and former Assistant State's Attorney Clark Johnson.

The appellate panel of judges Judy Lynn Cates, Thomas Welch and James Moore said in a written ruling that Turner, who represented himself without a lawyer, failed to meet legal standards set by the Illinois Supreme Court for appeals.

The decision said Turner's "statement of facts" in the appeal was a "rambling dissertation" and that his arguments were "not well-developed or coherent."

Turner couldn't be reached for comment. He has the option of appealing the appellate ruling to the Supreme Court.

The three Sangamon County prosecutors filed their civil lawsuit against Turner on May 23, 2022, and said in court documents that Turner believes he is not subject to prosecution for alleged violations of Illinois law involving five traffic and misdemeanor offenses in 2020 and 2021.

The lawsuit said Turner tried to intimidate prosecutors when he filed documents with the county recorder's office in March 2022 naming the three lawyers as "debtors" and placing liens totaling $100,000 on their homes and other property.

The summary judgment request said higher courts have "categorically rejected the pseudolegal ramblings often asserted by 'sovereign citizen' litigants."

The request asked Kording to nullify Turner's claims that Wright, Botts and Johnson owed Turner any money, stop Turner from taking any action to collect fraudulent debts, and pay the prosecutors a total of at least $30,000 in damages.

Turner filed his appeal before Kording was able to issue an order dealing with the details of the lawyers' request for summary judgment.

The civil lawsuit was believed to be one of the first instances in which county-level government officials in Illinois took steps to discourage what the FBI has called "paper terrorism."

Turner has failed to appear in court since a May 24, 2022, hearing in Sangamon County Circuit Court on the traffic and misdemeanor cases.

He told an Illinois Times reporter after the hearing that he isn't a sovereign citizen and hasn't engaged in paper terrorism. After a story appeared in the newspaper June 2, 2022, about the court cases, Turner filed a civil lawsuit against Illinois Times and the reporter, alleging defamation. The case remains pending.

The Illinois Attorney General's Office filed a felony charge against Turner on May 25, 2022, that alleged he took steps to illegally place a lien against Wright's home and other property. The case remains pending.

Wright charged Turner on May 25 with felonies for alleged unlawful delivery of marijuana and obstructing justice. A warrant has been issued for his arrest.

Federal Magistrate Judge Karen McNaught in June 2022 granted federal prosecutors' request for a warrant to arrest Turner based on prosecutors' contention that Turner failed to comply with terms of his supervised release in a different case.

Turner was released from federal prison in October 2020 after serving two years of a five-year federal prison sentence for aggravated identity theft, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and the sale of a stolen vehicle.

State and federal authorities haven't been able to locate Turner to arrest him.

Turner was unsuccessful in his 2022 request that the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission investigate Wright, Botts and Johnson for their treatment of him. The commission opted not to investigate.

In court documents before Kording's August ruling, Turner criticized county prosecutors for their "intolerable behavior" and their "farce criminal minded sham to gain position" over Turner.

Turner said he wouldn't appear in court because the pending state and federal warrants would make him "an undefended victim released into a Roman Colosseum with a starving lion."

Dean Olsen is a senior staff writer at Illinois Times. He can be reached at [email protected], 217-679-7810 or

About The Author

Dean Olsen

Dean Olsen is a senior staff writer for Illinois Times. He can be reached at:
[email protected], 217-679-7810 or @DeanOlsenIT.

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