Sunday, November 13, 2011

Winnebago County Judge Joe McGraw Elected Chief Judge; McGraw Acquitted McHenry County State's Attorney Lou Bianchi of Criminal Charges Twice in Directed Verdicts

Winnebago County Judge Joseph McGraw, who this year ruled in favor of McHenry County State’s Attorney Louis Bianchi in two swift directed verdicts, has been elected to serve as Chief Judge for the 17th Circuit beginning Jan. 1, 2012 by an unanimous vote of circuit judges in Winnebago and Boone Counties.

Following Bianchi's first trial last March, Thomas McQueen, special prosecutor of Bianchi, requested that McGraw recuse himself because he had been paid by the Illinois Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor (ILSAAP) -- the same agency which has been involved in multiple other aspects of Bianchi's case. The Chicago Tribune quoted McGraw, "These accusations...when considered in context, do not create even the appearance of impropriety."

Undaunted by allegations of conflicts of interest, McGraw refused to step down and the following week instructed at another ILSAAP seminar held in Naperville, billing taxpayers $3,125. 

McGraw acquitted Bianchi in a second directed verdict last August. Directed verdicts, considered unusual to occur even once, allowed Bianchi defense attorney Terry Ekl to win both trials without presenting any evidence. Bianchi opted for bench trials.

McGraw, a former assistant state's attorney, has received $21,529 from ILSAAP for seminar instruction since 2005 according to state documents. Another payment of $3,125 is expected to be made by the entity for seminar work in September 2011.