Monday, March 29, 2010

Chicago judge to decide if his own accuser goes to jail

Chicago judge to decide if his own accuser goes to jail

By: Barbara Hollingsworth
Local Opinion Editor
03/26/10 3:24 PM EDT

How’s this for an eyeball-popping conflict of interest?

Chicago Circuit Court Judge Alexander White - the same judge accused of being on the take in a civil trial four years ago - is expected to rule today on whether his accuser has to serve the remaining 34 days of his sentence on criminal contempt of court charges in Cook County Jail.

Chicago businessman Michael Lynch, the former CEO of McCook Metals, is also a key witness in an ongoing Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the United Airlines bankruptcy in Chicago, raising new questions about retaliation and witness tampering.

In a 2006 affadavit Lynch filed with the court, he claimed to have material evidence – including bank account numbers and trust documents – implicating federal Chief Bankruptcy Judge Eugene Wedoff, who presided over both the United and McCook cases, as well as six state judges (including Judge White), and a number of lawyers, businessmen and bankruptcy trustees. Two judges named in Lynch’s court filings abruptly retired soon afterwards.

Lynch was cited for criminal contempt for allegedly including “unsubstantiated and far-flung allegations that Judge White was a participant in an organized crime scheme in Arizona.” White currently presides over all judgment, eminent domain, quitclaim and lien cases in Cook County, which was recently chosen as the worst jurisdiction in the nation for judicial corruption in a survey of legal experts commissioned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Lynch’s allegations are similar to those that sparked Operation Greylord, an FBI investigation of judicial corruption in Cook County during the 1980s that indicted 92 government officials, including 17 judges, on corruption charges. The now retired judge who originally cited Lynch for contempt accused him of “attacking the integrity of the court” after the businessman filed a pro se motion asking that another judge hear his case.

Lynch told The Examiner that a team of private investigators he hired determined that both Judge White and Judge Wedoff failed to report several blind trusts under management by third parties on their financial disclosure forms. Lynch says he provided copies of all evidence his team unearthed to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

The Illinois Supreme Court refused to hear Lynch’s appeal of the contempt finding. One of the Supreme Court justices is Anne Burke, wife of Daley family loyalist Alderman Ed Burke. In his 2004 book, “When Corruption was King,” former Mafia attorney Robert Cooley - whose hidden tape recordings helped launch Greylord - accused Burke and his wife of fixing two murder cases. Alderman Burke is also chairman of the Democratic Committee that appoints judges. A Jan. 22, 2008 Chicago Tribune article called the Burkes “the state’s richest political family,” with a combined political warchest of $8.3 million – an –eyebrow-raising amount of cash for an appointed judge and a city alderman.

On March 2, a three-judge appellate panel that includes Judge Mary Jane Thies, daughter of another former Cook County official, upheld Lynch’s contempt citation even though, he told The Examiner, a legally mandated sentencing hearing was never held.

Read more at the Washington Examiner:

1 comment:

  1. A pattern and practice of allowing judges and public officials to ignore the Rule of Law has led to the violation of Constitutional rights for people throughout America.
    We must stop putting anyone above the Law, and protect whistleblowers.

    Betsy Combier
    President, The E-Accountability Foundation