Trust me! I’ve been toiling at the keyboard long enough to know when I write, “Because they enforce the law, the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office firmly believes they’re above it,” some of you chuckle and say to yourself, “There goes Jeff Ward with the hyperbole again!”
I will be the first to admit that I’m not nearly averse to the auspicious application of embellishment, but the truth is, the KCSAO is a proposition that requires no exaggeration whatsoever.
To wit, a full 19 days after the Attorney General told them to turn over 255 pages of sexual harassment complaints against just one former prosecutor, I finally received a response from Civil Division head Joe Lulves. Just as I predicted, citing the same sad stipulations the AG already struck down, the KCSAO remains steadfast in their refusal to abide by the law.
I can almost understand another elected official trying this kind of bleep, but the state’s attorney’s office? Aren’t they the very individuals tasked with upholding the standard they’re supposed to set for the rest of us?
Here’s Lulves’ final response to the AG upholding my FOIA request appeal:
Please note his argument it’s not materially different from his previous FOIA denial responses. He cites the same statutes, the same precedent, and the same internal policies that the Attorney General’s Office already overruled in their lengthy eight-page ruling.
He did manage to add a few inconsequential new twists at the end, but as any competent attorney knows, the time to make your argument is during the trial. The appeal process is reserved for determining the efficacy of that argument.
If that weren’t the case, the KCSAO could simply change their position every time they lose a FOIA appeal sending the requester right back to square one. Lulves regularly brags that his office is FOIA-proof and that’s exactly how he does it.
So, when Lulves encouraged me to go back to the Public Access Counselor in his latest denial letter, I wanted to shout, “Joe! Did you miss the fact that I already appealed your illegal FOIA refusal and won?”
To be fair, in an obvious effort to placate me, Lulves did release a letter of reprimand issued by Joe McMahon to the former prosecutor involved. So, now I’m the proud recipient of two pages and one sentence out of a 255-page sexual harassment file the AG asked them to turn over.
You can read that reprimand right here:
And the reason they released that letter is, at first glance, it appears as if they actually did something about this prosecutor. But Joe Lulves made a point of saying it was “the only written disciplinary documentation,” finally coming after the problem had persisted for more than five years and at least four female ASA’s quit as a result of the harassment. And what was McMahon’s amazing answer? To move that prosecutor’s office away from one of his victims.
Be still my beating heart! Who knew that making them walk an extra ten yards would be an effective sexual harassment deterrent!
We also now know the prosecutor got away with it because, in McMahon’s own words, he was “a very talented lawyer and a valuable employee in the office.” I guess McMahon feels that women are expendable! Anything for a higher conviction rate, right Joe?
And doesn’t it really say something that out of those 255 pages, only two of them contain any sort of disciplinary action?
So now, after nine long months, we’re finally to the point where most newspapers and journalists would be forced to give up. They’d realize the court system would be their only option and the legal process takes the kind of time and financial resources that local newspapers no longer have.
And Joe Lulves knows that.
But as my adoring throng already knows, I have a propensity to be a little more persistent. Ironically, as a result of the KCSAO’s efforts to silence me, I’ve learned how to write reasonable complaints and motions. I also understand the Kane County court system better than most attorneys, which really isn’t setting the bar too high when you consider most Kane County attorneys.
Of course, there’s no way of escaping the horse manure $350 “tax” attorneys have to pay just to walk into a civil courtroom, but we certainly have to keep our judges in the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed, don’t we?
So, with yours truly coughing up the cash and doing most of the legal groundwork, and with attorney Jeff Meyer ready to provide the courtroom argument, trust me, a judge will eventually order the KCSAO to release every last page of those complaints and they will subsequently be posted right here.
Meanwhile, please understand that this is exactly who Joe McMahon and Joe Lulves are. They can offer all sorts of halcyon platitudes about their KCSAO tenure, but their final legacy will be the kind of beyond the pale arrogance that would have them believe they’re somehow better than the rest of us.
The truth is, they’re far worse than the people they successfully prosecute.
The bottom line is, in the words of that late, great philosopher, Tom Petty, “I won’t back down.” And wouldn’t you think Joe Lulves would get a little tired of me consistently beating him?