A month ago St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bill McClellan wrote a less-than-respectful column reporting on the course of a controversial defamation suit filed by disbarred local attorney Amiel Cueto. Now Cueto has notified McClellan that he regards him as having acted as an “agent” of the defendant in the suit, the Madison-St. Clair Record, and he’s threatening him with compulsory process as a witness. McClellan, whom Overlawyered readers will remember as having been the target of appalling legal bullying from Metro-East plaintiff’s lawyers in the past, retains his cheerful tone in a new column. (Bill McClellan, “Amiel Cueto has a gift, or maybe he doesn’t”, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Aug. 31; “Accusations, lawsuit make me nostalgic”, Sept. 30).
The underlying action arose from an item that ran in the U.S. Chamber-supported Madison-St. Clair Record on Jan. 30, 2006, alleging that Cueto, who served six years in prison on an obstruction of justice conviction, had been spied at a meeting of St. Clair County judges. “Once one of the most powerful lawyers in Southern Illinois, Cueto was said to have ‘owned’ fifteen of St. Clair County’s seventeen judges in the mid-1990s,” the column further asserted. Cueto sued the paper, in a hard-fought action currently in process. In other actions, as Ted noted Feb. 26, Cueto has sued the Illinois Civil Justice League and its political action committee over a campaign ad, and a local resident over a letter to the editor in the Belleville, Ill. News-Democrat (Malcolm Gay, “Power Broken”, Riverfront Times, Sept. 5; Ann Knef, “Amiel Cueto takes aim at ICJL”, Madison-St. Clair Record, Feb. 20; ICJL, Dec. 4, 2006).