Quick Hits – February 16, 2018

It looks like we’re gonna head back to that morass known as the Kane County Judicial Center one more time. I understand the inherent risk of overkill, but since the local newspapers don’t seem to believe in any kind of due diligence, someone’s gotta keep an eye on the folks sworn to uphold the law.

They certainly won’t police themselves.

 

Of course, felonies are up – part 2

Aside from my fun-loving “fan club,” one of the things I love about this gig is, if you do it right, stories beget stories and sources beget sources. And as far as government entities go, there’s always someone willing to tell the truth because they’re unhappy with the underhanded status quo.

It’s in that very vein that a KCSAO insider reached out to me to further explain why Kane County just experienced a felony bump.

Wednesday’s Quick Hits covered that, while the number of Kane County felony case reviews has remained remarkably consistent over the last four years, there was a 6.6 percent spike in approved felony charges in 2017.

So, I explained that, with State’s Attorney Joe McMahon rarely in the office, relatively recent criminal division head Joe Cullen was applying a “let the judge sort ‘em out” CYA mentality. But it turns out it’s even worse than that.

Cullen

Joe Cullen and Joe McMahon

What that prosecutor told me is, since Cullen has been running the show, he instructs his underlings to “upgrade” misdemeanor charges to felonies to get more “leverage” on a plea deal. Nice! That’s about as close to official misconduct as you can get without actually crossing the line.

Think about it! If you walk into an attorney’s office on an assault charge, it’s going to run you between $2,500 to $5,000 to plead it out or go to trial. But if it’s aggravated assault, now you’re talking five to ten grand. Since most defendants can’t come up with that kind of cash, the KCSAO gets a quick and easy conviction.

Facing the full weight of the people is daunting enough, not to mention what a felony conviction does to your life. So, Cullen is willfully embracing an outright abuse of the criminal justice system. What does it say when you’d rather hang with the county jail inmates than deal with Cullen and his minions?

As is always the case, I reached out to McMahon for comment and none was forthcoming. Is anyone really surprised?

 

And the Geneva Police are no better

Also, as a result of Wednesday’s column, a former GPD officer told me that Commander Julie Nash, Commander Brian Maduzia and Chief Eric Passarelli, as a matter of policy, encourage the rank and file to liberally apply the concept of “creative charges.”

Maduzia

Brian Maduzia

That’s their exact words. Just ask any other Kane County law enforcement agency.

They’re well aware of the KCSAO’s propensity to go for the felony throat, and the GPD takes full advantage of it by inflating criminal charges whenever possible. So much for that oath to uphold the law.

And this isn’t nearly the only serious issue with the Geneva Police Department, but it certainly ranks in the top two. We’ll get to the others in time.

 

Does Jim Fuller ever consider telling the truth?

Probably not!

To wit, today’s Daily Herald contains a story covering Kane County law enforcement’s efforts to bring the defunct GPS monitoring program back to life. In that poor excuse for journalism, Fuller wrote, “The County Board eliminated the funding for the electronic monitoring system to help resolve a budget deficit heading into 2018.”

That’s an outright lie and he knows it.

Fuller

Jim Fuller

The truth is, Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles played chicken with the County Board’s request for 3.6 percent across-the-board 2018 budget reductions. Instead of working with the Board like former Chief Judge Judith Brawka did, Boles held the program hostage in an attempt to stave off any judicial cuts whatsoever.

As more than one board member explained to Fuller, the County Board did not make that cut, Judge Boles – and only Judge Boles – made that choice. The 16th Circuit is one of the most bloated judiciaries in Illinois, which means they could’ve made a slew of more appropriate budget adjustments.

But as Fuller regularly admitted to me, it’s easier to play off the contentiousness that plagues most governing bodies than it is to get the story straight.

And lo and behold! Because the board called her bluff and didn’t blink in the face of Boles’ blackmail, the Chief Judge came to them hat in hand to resurrect the program. In fact, to Boles’ credit, she suggested creating a county-wide, or perhaps a multi-county task force to determine a more cost-effective method of bringing GPS monitoring back.

So, instead of castigating them, the credit should go to Chairman Chris Lauzen and the Kane County Board for holding the Chief Judge’s feet to the fire. Ain’t it amazing how something can suddenly be done less expensively when there’s no other option!

 

Four!

That’s the number of consecutive days the Daily Herald has provided in-depth coverage of the tragic NIU shooting.

Apparently, they’re convinced that won’t encourage anyone else to do the same thing. I wish I had that kind of confidence.

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