All my Kane County Judicial Center children

Now, I will admit I’ve had a couple of shots of tequila this evening, but that’s the only way anyone can cover the Kane County justice system and make any sense of it whatsoever.

Of course, I wrote the words “Kane County Justice system” with the full understanding that the word “oxymoron” doesn’t begin to do it justice. The only thing more incestuous than this group of judges, prosecutors and attorneys would be a Trump family reunion.

“But Jeff! Aren’t you about to embark upon the kind of boring insider baseball BS that makes the average ADHD reader immediately descend into a three-day sugar and video gaming binge just to compensate? Perhaps! But that’s never stopped me before.

Kane County Judicial Center

There comes a time when regular folks need to know how the sausage is made.

So when we last left off, I’d already covered the various iterations of the Daniel Rak murder trial, which included a lengthy hearing on a slew of ill-gotten public defender emails at the hands of an out-of-control Kane County States Attorney’s office.

Public Defender Kelli Childress was doing her damndest to get the charges tossed based on the proposition that prosecutorial overreach is never a good thing. But the hitch in her legal giddyup is, the standards the KCSAO regularly applies to us, never seem to apply to them. That’s why there’s no bathroom mirrors at Route 38 and Peck Road.

Since this is clearly a tale told by an idiot (me, if you had any doubt), full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, and all the world really is a stage, I thought the best way to proceed would be to cover all the players. Though this certainly ain’t no Midsummer’s Night Dream, the word I’m really looking for does rhyme with Puck.

1. Judge D. J. Tegeler

When he wasn’t busy treating female public defenders with the utmost contempt – one of the many perks the black dress confers – he ruled that the state’s attorney’s email conduct wasn’t “egregious” enough to change anything. Apparently, a prosecutor has to kill a defense attorney in open court before they cross that line.

And there’s no one I’d rather play poker against either, because a scant two minutes into that first hearing, I knew exactly how the Judge was gonna rule. I also know those humorless Second District appellate court judges will slap him upside the legal head if the case ever gets that far.

Not to worry Your Honor! Judge John Dalton always seems willing to go out of his way to make his peers look good by comparison.

2. Public Defender Kelli Childress

Is one of the most brilliant and perceptive attorneys I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing in action. But when it comes to applying that considerable skillset to herself or her own cases, she has all the vision of Stevie Wonder.

Being a purist barely pays when you’re a bleepin’ columnist, much less a PD who serves at the behest of the all-male 16th Circuit judicial chorus. The only thing more painful than watching those hearings was having to sit my bony white butt on those unforgiving gallery benches.

It’s why I gave up Catholicism for Lent.

It’s not that Childress did a bad job. No! Her grasp of databases truly impressed this former 20-year programming consultant. It’s that, instead of reading the judge and simply moving on to a murder trial that has more holes than the Circuit Clerk’s new computer system, she bet too much on this illicit email longshot and went down in the kind of inevitable flames that make North Korean missile launches so much fun.

So after Tegeler stopped berating her long enough to issue his ruling, she had to ask for a continuance to prepare that defense, which failed to amuse the judge, which will make her client’s life that much more difficult.

On a side note, though we desperately need more people like you in that PD position Ms. Childress, we’re I in your heels, I’d start considering other options. With some notable exceptions, Kane County judges love a zealous defense until it comes from a PD with a uterus.

3. Rak Prosecutor Alex Bederka

How does one sum up my favorite assistant state’s attorney? Again; what’s the difference between God and Alex? God doesn’t think he’s Alex Berderka! But at least Alex can take solace in the fact that his marginal courtroom capacities are light years ahead of his failed attempts at becoming a real boy.

To wit, the KCSAO probably spent as much as six figures on Hinshaw & Culberston, Joe McMahon’s old law firm, to defend an email motion that was doomed from the Judge Tegeler start. Even Alex couldn’t have screwed that one up. To hell with the Kane County taxpayers, right!

So now Bederka and the SAO are going forward with charges that should never have been filed in the first place. Even someone with my minimal intelligence, surly manner and lack of bar accreditation could instill enough reasonable doubt.

4. Kane County State’s Attorney Joe McMahon

Whose chances of being appointed to that coveted Northern Illinois Federal Prosecutor position are dwindling day by day, in great part, because he’s letting the inmates run the asylum.

If any defense attorney, public defender or police officer “accidentally” obtained similar privileged information, the fat lady wouldn’t even bother warming up. But in McMahon’s magic kingdom, all prosecutor Deb Lang had to do is wave her I-didn’t-read-those-emails sworn statement magic wand, and it’s all good!

She certainly knew which emails needed to be deleted from the subpoena response, didn’t she?

And McMahon’s insistence on setting up that errant email aggregation system in the first place seems to have no bearing on anything. One can only hope those federal prosecutors have been paying attention.

But the real Peter Principle irony here is, most of the applicable Kane County politicians are so fed up with Joe and his office, they want to help him move up just to get rid of him.


As for me, after navigating the Kane County justice system as the victim of a Class X felony and paying particular attention this case, in the words of that great philosopher Billy Joel, “I’d rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints, the sinners are much more fun – and more honest too.”

(OK! So I paraphrased!)

This is Kane County justice folks! Daniel Rak would have a better shot on The People’s Court or by simply rolling the dice. And that’s the only part of this story that doesn’t make me laugh. At least with sausage, I get to enjoy the end product.

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