Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Judge rules, cannot appoint Sp. Prosecutor

Shortly after 10:00AM Judge Thomas Meyer issued his decision in a case that has lingered in McHenry County Court for 27 months. Zane Seipler had filed a petition for a Special Prosecutor to investigate Sheriff Keith Nygren.

Recently State's Attorney Lou Bianchi testified that he could not investigate, indict or prosecute Sheriff Nygren because of an ethical conflict. He is, by law, the sheriff's attorney, and he said that he cannot represent him and prosecute him at the same time.

This morning Judge Meyer did not comment on the "ethics" involved. From the portion of the hearing that was audible in the courtroom (low voices prevailed too long), I understood Judge Meyer to say that Bianchi was not unavailable (i.e., he wasn't sick, ill, absent from the office, on vacation) and that he wasn't unavailable due to a conflict. Judge Meyer said, as I understood him, that it was an exercise of discretion by Bianchi not to launch an investigation into Nygren's activities.

Judge Meyer said the court lacked the legal authority to appoint a special prosecutor in this case. He also said that the Court is concerned about appearances in this case.

Is the Sheriff now getting a free pass, since Bianchi refuses to consider whether to investigate Nygren?

Will Bianchi now re-consider his position and look really hard to determine whether he actually can investigate, indict and prosecute Nygren? Should he perform the duty of his office and then fight any attempt to disbar him that arises?

Of course, Nygren would hire an outside defense attorney in that case, since he couldn't expect the State's Attorney to defend him while it was prosecuting him. Ka-ching. Some law office must be licking its chops over the size of possible fees to defend Nygren. Count on three years - minimum. Lots of court appearances. Lots of in-office conference time with multiple attorneys. And Nygren would expect the County to pay for it.

Nygren's personal attorney was in the courtroom. I wonder what Mark Gummerson charged for his 15 minutes there. I hope he bills Nygren promptly and gets paid.

And the sheriff's Chief of Security Howie Parth was in the courtroom. What was that all about? He sat in the back row with other spectators. Since he was in uniform and the time was during work hours, why was he there? Certainly, no outbursts or threats were expected.

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