Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bianchi's Judge Received Payments from Illinois Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor

Winnebago County Judge Joseph McGraw, who last month ruled in favor of McHenry County State’s Attorney Louis Bianchi in a swift directed verdict, has received $18,404 from the Illinois Office of the State’s Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor (ILSAAP) since 2005 according to state documents.

ILSAAP was created to provide services to state's attorneys including appellate cases, certain drug-related cases and special prosecutions.  (725 ILCS 210)  The entity's Board of Governors is comprised of nine state's attorneys from around the state.  At the time of this publication, a photo of Bianchi standing with ILSAAP executive staff and members of the Board of Governors is in rotation on the home page of the entity's website. 

McHenry County is currently represented by ILSAAP in oversight and objections of bills submitted by outside special prosecutors in the same cases McGraw presides.  resolution passed by the McHenry County Board in January reads that the county pays ILSAAP $30,000 annually for services to the office of the state's attorney.  

Vouchers and invoices of 
ILSAAP (listed under Agency 295) correlate with dates of training seminars for assistant state's attorneys where McGraw's name appears. Notations of "instructors fee" are found in documents for a dozen seminars; reimbursement of expenses is never mentioned. 

The most recent payment to McGraw was $3,125 for services from Oct. 25 - 29, 2010, the same dates of ILSAAP's "Basic Trial Advocacy Program" held in Springfield.  The course schedule of this training seminar, found on ILSAAP's website, shows that McGraw was part of a three-person panel discussion on pre-trial motions with David O'Connor of Orland Park on Oct. 25th -- three days after McGraw's first hearing involving Bianchi.

O'Connor was the special prosecutor specifically requested by Bianchi to investigate Amy Dalby, a former employee of the state's attorney's office and a key witness against Bianchi in the case before McGraw last month.  ILSAAP training seminars are coordinated by O’Connor who has had contracts renewed annually since 2007.

In September 2010, McGraw was appointed to preside over the combined 26 felony charges of conspiracy, misconduct and obstruction of justice by Bianchi and his secretary, Joyce Synek.  Bianchi opted for a bench trial in February.  Last month, McGraw declared Bianchi and Synek not guilty of all charges in an unusual directed verdict several hours after the prosecution rested their case and before the defense offered any evidence.  A second trial for additional felony charges against Bianchi and others is scheduled for June.

The Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct guides judges to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety.

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