Friday, May 20, 2011

Shadowy Illinois State's Attorneys Association Filed Amicus Curiae Brief for Client of Bianchi's Attorney

Association Closely Affiliated with 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 Filing "Friend of the Court" Brief

The Illinois State's Attorneys Association filed an an amicus curiae "friend of the court" brief on Sept. 22, 2010 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 court documents.

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

Board minutes report that the Illinois Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor (ILSAAP) Board of Governors unanimously approved the filing of this brief by the Association, a non-profit corporation closely affiliated with ILSAAP apparently not subject to the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act. 

While ILSAAP agreed that the Association was to be a "friend of the court" supporting McFatridge's petition for a writ of mandamus for 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.

Colburn signed a motion in 2008 which may have served as legal protection of Ekl's client. ILSAAP's highly-publicized motion to Nolle Prosequi Without Prejudice was for the release of Herb Whitlock who had been convicted 21 years earlier, along with Gordon "Randy" Steidl, for the 1986 murders of Dyke and Karen Rhoads of Paris, ILThe granted motion, however, provided no finality for Whitlock; ILSAAP still asserts that he and Steidl are under suspicion and require additional investigation.

Whitlock and Steidl have filed wrongful conviction lawsuits against McFatridge et al, leading to the Association's amicus curiae brief.

Association President Sheldon Sobol filed the amicus curiae brief; Sobol is Grundy County State's Attorney and also serves as secretary of ILSAAP's Board of Governors. He is "standing up for justice" with Bianchi in a recent photo in rotation on ILSAAP's home page recognizing IL Rep. Frank Mautino (D), 76th District, as "Outstanding Legislator of the Year." Bianchi's appearance in the photo suggests that he may hold a leadership position with the Association, as well.

Illinois State's Attorneys Association's recent recognition of IL Rep. Frank Mautino (D), 76th District, as "Outstanding Legislator of the Year". Grundy County State's Attorney Sheldon Sobol, second from the left, serves as the Association's president and ILSAAP Board of Governors secretary. McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi is on the far right.

Former DuPage County State's Attorney and ILSAAP Board of Governors Vice Chairman Joe Birkett led the discussion supporting public payment of McFatridge's legal fees in last September's Board meeting. Twelve years earlier, Birkett had approached the DuPage County Board to pay the legal bills of the DuPage Seven -- three prosecutors and four deputies indicted on 47 charges of conspiracy related to the investigations, prosecutions and convictions involving the kidnapping and murder of young Jeanine Nicarico. Ekl represented one of the prosecutors.

McFatridge served on ILSAAP's Board of Governors from 1989 - 1991. While in this position, his name appeared on two amicus curiae briefs filed by the Association -- one supporting Birkett, in Henry vs. Ryan, represented by attorney James Sotos. The other, Arkebauer vs. Kiley, includes the name of Patrick Delfino, now serving as ILSAAP's executive director.

Sotos' firm represents the City of Paris, IL in the Steidl/Whitlock lawsuits. 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:

McHenryLeaks Asks:

Should ILSAAP distance itself from criminal and civil litigation of its state's attorneys and former state's attorneys, particularly when the Agency can use its own powers to impact the outcomes?

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

Why did Birkett lead the discussion on the amicus brief? Why was the brief prepared by DuPage County Assistant State's Attorney Lisa Hoffman? Who paid her?

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?

Should we rethink non-profit corporations which are administered by government employees (probably during regular working hours) and largely funded by tax dollars, and yet, are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act and the Open Meetings Act?

Following are documents related to the amicus curiae brief filed by the Illinois State's Attorneys Association filed on Sept. 22, 2010. To enlarge, click or double-click the image: