Of course, felonies are up!
Regarding a 2017 6.6 percent increase in Kane County felony charges, a stark reversal of a recent downward trend, State’s Attorney Joe McMahon said, “…that is a significant spike from 2016. This is alarming to me, it’s concerning to me.”
That’s a wee bit more than a disingenuous statement when you consider McMahon’s management style, or the lack thereof, is the major contributing factor.
To be fair, as the State’s Attorney pointed out, the growing opioid epidemic certainly has something to do with this jump, but it’s not nearly the driving force. Because if you look more closely at the numbers of cases up for felony review:
- 2,646 in 2017
- 2,626 in 2016
- 2,533 in 2015
- 2,623 in 2014
you’ll quickly note there’s no statistically significant year-to-year difference. In fact, the number of Kane County felony review cases is remarkably consistent. What that means is, our 6.6 percent upturn is the result of more felony charges being approved, not necessarily more potential felonies.
To wit, 2,413 felony cases were approved in 2017, while just 2,253 made the 2016 cut. And that is statistically significant.
This all goes back to our contention that, in an effort to land a better job, McMahon has become an absentee boss, leaving criminal division head Joe Cullen to run the show. And a number of KCSAO insiders and defense attorneys tell me that Cullen lacks either the courage or the IQ to make those tough calls.
His theory is, charge ‘em all and let the judge sort ‘em out, which may cover his ass, but it basically becomes justice denied.
Look at some of the recent high-profile Kane County cases. They charged Daniel Rak with first degree murder, but Public Defender Kelli Childress chewed them up and spit them out. They couldn’t get attempted murder charges to stick against Scott Turyna, either. And a misdemeanor case against your favorite journalist was summarily tossed by a rare directed verdict.
As far as me being part of the story goes, we’ll go into much greater detail regarding the Geneva Police Department’s insistent harassment and State’s Attorney retaliation after the civil litigation smoke has cleared. Suffice it to say that the buzz among the KCSAO prosecutors was I committed no crime, but that certainly didn’t stop Cullen from attempting to extract his pound of flesh.
So, Joe (McMahon)! If you’re truly concerned about the increase in felony charges, perhaps you should spend less time in Chicago and more in Kane County. Problem solved!
And speaking of Joe McMahon in Chicago…
Word out of the morass at Route 38 and Peck Road is, since that high-profile case did not get him that federal prosecutor’s position, Joe desperately wants to get out from under the Laquan McDonald prosecution. But since no one else is lining up to take it on, it would appear that he – and the rest of Kane County – are stuck with it.
C’mon! What was he thinking when rushed in where angels fear to tread? It was gonna be all wine and roses?
Whether you like it or not, State’s Attorney is a very political position, and if you don’t have a basic grasp of how those politics work, it’s going to make the job ten times tougher. Even if McMahon wins this one, a likely outcome, prosecuting a police officer generally doesn’t endear you to anyone in law enforcement.
This move may have raised his profile, but now that McMahon realizes it makes him less promotable, he wants out.
Too late Joe!
Since we’re on the subject!
At the risk of beating a dead horse, McMahon’s capacity to abrogate his crucial leadership role is having other serious long-term side-effects.
We’ve already discussed that, with former chief juvenile prosecutor, Lark Cowart, departing in December, that critical division has descended into a complete tailspin. And if we aren’t able to reach these offenders as minors, they’ll inevitably end up in jail as adults. And that’s a very costly proposition on a number of fronts.
Though Cowart refuses to castigate her former employer in any way, insiders told me she left, in great part, “because they treated her like shit.”
To make matters worse, the KCSAO just lost the 20-year Illinois grant that funded the now-defunct Victim’s Rights Unit. Though that group consisted of just three staffers, they were a rare bright spot as I worked my way through the system as a felony crime victim.
Having previously toiled for social service agencies and being no stranger to grant writing, scenarios like this occur when the boss isn’t paying attention and simply takes that money for granted.
Of course, the KCSAO is appealing the grant termination, but that’s about as useful as spittin’ into the wind.
Oddly enough, rather than lay off the two remaining victim’s rights advocates, McMahon moved them into other positions. This begs the question, if he has the money to continue to pay them, why not allow them to continue to do their good work?
We really need a new state’s attorney folks.