Monday, May 9, 2011

Illinois Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor Approved Amicus Curiae Brief for Client of Bianchi's Attorney Last September

Same State Agency Representing McHenry County in Illinois Appellate Court Case Objecting Payment to Bianchi's Special Prosecutors Recently Supported Public Payment of Legal Fees for Ekl's Client -- Former Edgar County State's Attorney -- by Preparing "Friend of the Court" Brief

The Illinois Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor (ILSAAP) Board of Governors unanimously approved the preparation of an amicus curiae "friend of the court" brief supporting public payment of legal fees for former Edgar County State's Attorney Michael McFatridge involved in ongoing high-profile federal civil lawsuits, represented by Terry Ekl, according to the Sept. 22, 2010 minutes.

Ekl is also the attorney for McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi. Bianchi was indicted 12 days prior to this meeting.

While ILSAAP agreed to be a "friend of the court" supporting McFatridge's payment of legal fees as a state official, it has taken an adversarial position on the bills of Bianchi's special prosecutors Henry Tonigan and Thomas McQueen. First Electric Newspaper reported that ILSAAP special prosecutor Chuck Colburn last month asked the Second District Appellate Court to overturn McHenry County Circuit Court Judge Gordon Graham's refusal to reduce payments to Tonigan and McQueen.

The ILSAAP Board of Governors minutes began with former Chairman John Schmidt requesting that Secretary Sheldon Sobol discuss the status of the proposed amicus curiae brief in support of McFatridge's petition for a writ of mandamus. Both Schmidt and Sobol are "standing up for justice" with Bianchi in the recent photo of the Illinois State's Attorneys Association recognizing IL Rep. Frank Mautino (D), 76th District.

Sobol commented that the brief had been prepared by (DuPage County Assistant State's Attorney) Lisa Hoffman and asked Vice Chairman Joe Birkett, present via teleconference, to provide a summary.  

The minutes continued:

Vice-Chairman Birkett stated that Mr. McFatridge is a former State's Attorney of Edgar County and is being sued in a federal civil suit for acts committed while he was in office.

Mr. Birkett further stated the Brief's main position is that it is well-established in Illinois law that State's Attorneys are state officials, and Illinois law clearly mandates that the Attorney General has the duty to provide representation for a state official in "proceedings involving acts committed within the scope of his official duties."

The Brief does not address the merits of the investigation.

Secretary Sobol led a general discussion as to the time of filing and a decision as to who would make the court presentation.

There was unanimous agreement to recommend that the Brief should be filed as soon as possible and that Lisa Hoffman should appear for the Illinois State's Attorneys Association.

The Board thanked Vice-Chairman Birkett and Ms. Hoffman for their efforts on this matter.

Birkett was appointed to the Illinois Appellate Court District Two last December.

Ekl also represents John Harris, star witness for U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald in the ongoing trial against former Governor Rod Blagojevich. 

Following is the amicus curiae policy adopted by the Illinois State Bar Association in 2002:

Former Edgar County State's Attorney McFatridge Involved in Past ILSAAP Amicus Curiae Briefs -- One Supporting Birkett

An ILSAAP/Illinois State's Attorneys Association amicus curiae brief was filed in Henry vs. Ryan, a lawsuit filed twenty years ago in DuPage County. Defendants included former State's Attorney Jim Ryan and former Assistant State's Attorney Joe Birkett. The court record reads: MICHAEL McFATRIDGE, by DALE M. WOOD, ESQ., Illinois State's Attorneys Association, State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor, Springfield, Illinois, appeared on behalf of amicus curiae supporting motion to dismiss, Illinois State's Attorneys Association. 

Itasca attorney James Sotos represented Ryan, Birkett et alia in this lawsuit. Sotos' firm currently represents the city of Paris, IL in the Steidl/Whitlock lawsuits involving McFatridge.

Several years later in Arkebauer vs. Kiley, the court record reads: Michael M. McFatridge, Patrick J. Delfino, Darien, IL for amicus curiae Illinois State's Attorneys Ass'n. (91-1058) Delfino is now ILSAAP's executive director.

McFatridge's prominent involvement in these amicus curiae briefs implies that he once served as a board member of ILSAAP and/or the Illinois State's Attorneys Association.

McHenryLeaks Asks:

Who alerted ILSAAP about McFatridge's lawsuit regarding legal payments?

Was Bianchi serving on the Board of the Illinois State's Attorneys Association when the amicus curiae brief was being prepared -- a brief that would benefit his own attorney?  

Could this be described as an amicus curiae quid pro quo?

Why are tax dollars being spent on the discussion and preparation of this amicus curiae brief that will be signed off by the Illinois State's Attorneys Association, a non-profit corporation which doesn't appear to be subject to the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act?

Why was a DuPage County Assistant State's Attorney chosen to prepare the brief and appear for the Association?  Who paid her?

Why doesn't ILSAAP post its Board of Governors minutes on its website?

Following are documents pertaining to Michael McFatridge and ILSAAP. To enlarge, click the image:

ILSAAP Board of Governors minutes, Sept. 22, 2010: