Winnebago County Circuit Judge Joseph McGraw ruled another swift directed verdict in the second bench trial of McHenry County State's Attorney Louis Bianchi this week for official misconduct charges. This follows McGraw's first directed verdict in the trial held last March favoring McHenry County's top law enforcer.
Directed verdicts, considered unusual to occur even once, allowed Bianchi defense attorney Terry Ekl to win both trials without presenting any evidence.
Special prosecutors Henry Tonigan and Thomas McQueen have the option to appeal McGraw's latest decision. Should they decide to press forward, they could object to McGraw's refusal to step down last April when the judge's impartiality was questioned. A successful appeal would nullify McGraw's acquittal of Bianchi this week, regardless of any merits of his decision. Double jeopardy would not apply, as the trial would be a nullity.
To date, special prosecutors have given no indication of appealing.
McHenryLeaks was the first outlet to publish that McGraw had received roughly $20,000 from the Illinois Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor (ILSAAP) in recent years for instructing seminars. Multiple potential conflicts of interest with those associated with Bianchi and ILSAAP have been discovered by McHenryLeaks in government records, many of which have never been addressed in mainstream news. (Click titles in sidebars on the right.)
as he had been paid by the same state agency that was involved in other aspects of Bianchi's case. McGraw denied the request stating that there was no quid pro quo asked for, expected or received. The Chicago Tribune reported, "'These accusations,' ...McGraw said, 'when considered in context, do not create even the appearance of impropriety.'"
In Re DOMINIQUE, F., 145 Ill. 2d 311, (1991)
The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in 1991 that a change of venue in any civil action may be had if "any party or his or her attorney fears that he or she will not receive a fair trial in the court in which the action is pending because the judge is prejudiced against him or her, or his or her attorney."
"It is well settled that venue provisions are to be liberally construed, with an end toward effecting rather than defeating a change of venue, particularly where the impartiality of the trial judge is called into question," the judgment reads.
The Court concluded that a trial judge improperly denied a minor's petitions for a change of venue. "Were a petition for change of venue is timely filed and in proper form, it must be granted and any order entered after its presentation is a nullity."
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The Chicago Tribune wrote, "Bianchi told supporters outside the McHenry County Courthouse in Woodstock that the outcome was a victory for all Illinois state's attorneys. Had he been convicted, he said, every public prosecutor would be subject to indictment for unpopular decisions that came with the job." Is this why Bianchi has been a top priority of ILSAAP since 2007?
Was it proper and ethical for McGraw to act as his own judge and jury when requested to step down when questioned on his impartiality?
Why, of all judges out there, was one appointed who was being paid by an entity representing the interests of state's attorneys, even during the period he was presiding over the Bianchi cases?