A great deal of attorney extraordinaire, Jeff Meyer’s, and Kane County Sheriff, Ron Hain’s waking hours are consumed by their persistent efforts to get me to moderate my journalistic message.
Talk about a Herculean task!
But my consistent response to my two favorite friends is this! If I stopped writing columns today, and I wrote an apology letter to every public official I’ve “offended,” and I entered a Zen monastery to spend the rest of my days in a transcendental meditative haze tomorrow, my “adoring throng” would still come after me with everything they’ve got.
And now I have proof!
As a result of my recent appellate court good fortune, sources within the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office reached out to tell me that the vacated domestic violence conviction wasn’t nearly their only investigation into Jeff Ward.
Hmmmm! I thought. And I issued the appropriate FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests.
The vast irony in all of this is, since the KCSAO has no clue as to how to accurately respond to a FOIA request, they sent me far more information than I actually sought. And the fact that the folks who train the rest of the County on how to respond to a FOIA can’t figure it out themselves is beyond horrifying.
Of course, as is par for the course, the KCSAO applied more bullshit exemptions to redact all of the juicy stuff, but they did send me hundreds, and perhaps thousands of unredacted pages primarily consisting of every column and radio show promo posted on The First Ward since 2012.
I can’t tell you just how weird it was to see my entire journalistic history staring right back at me in living color. All I can say is, that picture of Rod Serling hanging on my home-office wall just keeps grinning at me.
But wait! There’s more!
Interspersed within those printed columns were hard copies of the various Illinois harassment statutes. So, what the KCSAO was clearly trying to do was compile as much data on me as possible and then do their damndest to shut me up by filing one or more “harassment” charges.
And I thought being a subject of the Unabomb investigation was the strangest thing that’s ever happened to me.
The beyond bizarre thing is, back in 2012, not only were then State’s Attorney Joe McMahon and I friends, but I regularly advised him – in writing (I still have the documents) – on how to better deal with Chairman Lauzen. We were running buddies for god’s sake! So, despite the fact I’m really good at it, this isn’t a case of me ticking someone off.
Perhaps there really is something to that old saw “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.”
Even with the applied FOIA exemptions, it’s not too terribly difficult to read between the lines and determine that the other driving force behind this Orwellian effort was the Kane County Judiciary. To quote one of the “exemptions” from the KCSAO FOIA response letter, “As indicated above, the responsive materials relate to an investigation of harassment by you include information about other identified persons in the judicial system.”
And I’m willing to risk a lawsuit by pointing a finger directly at Judge John Dalton and former Chief Judge Susan Clancy Boles. And Boles is about to launch a run for the appellate court? Not on my watch!
Despite everything I’ve been through, I’d still like to think current Chief Judge Clint Hull wasn’t involved in these Gestapo tactics, but I’ve had recent reason to question his character. Clint wants everyone to think he’s a really good guy, but in the end, it’s all an act.
And the wonderful legal Catch-22 here is, if any of those judges feel insulted and provoked enough to take me to court over these revelations, then all those redacted documents will have to be made public.
We’ve previously discussed this underlying dynamic at great length. With rare exception, our prosecutors and judges, the individuals tasked with putting us in jail, are the most fragile people on the face of the earth. We live in an era rife with the fallout from the California self-esteem movement such that being criticized is worse than being stabbed in the thigh, or perhaps evem murdered. These law enforcement officers’ skins are so thin and their self-definitions so fragile that they’ll abrogate their sworn duty to uphold the law and pursue justice at the drop of a hat.
But not even I thought it was this bad.
Though I do want to be clear that we’re not talking about any kind of a conspiracy here. No one in government, much less the Kane County Judicial Center, is smart enough to pull one off. We’re talking about Joe McMahon getting the Nixonian ball rolling and everyone else piling on.
I understand I can be an acquired taste, my inability to suffer fools is legendary, and my journalistic tactics can fall into the take no prisoners category, but at my worst, those tactics pale in comparison to the shit that prosecutors and judges pull on defendants on a daily basis.
In the process of writing this piece, one of my best Kane County Judicial Center sources – someone who worked with Joe McMahon for years – called me back and here’s what they had to say:
Of course, Joe McMahon would start a dossier on you. Our former state’s attorney is an incredibly paranoid man and anyone who dares criticize him is either malevolent or part of a vast conspiracy. He always has a knife at your back. So, even though you were friends, just to be on the safe side, he’d start tracking your every move.
And now, after this and enduring a sexual harassment scandal, McMahon finds himself right back at Geneva’s Griffin, Williams, McMahon, and Walsh. Apparently character doesn’t count for much at that law firm, does it?
Other than the fact that the FOIA returned absolutely NO evidence I’ve harassed anyone, it’s a very small consolation that I was never charged. Oh! And that was one of the bullshit reasons State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser gave me for redacting so much of that file.
Prior to this morning (7/14), despite being raised highly Catholic, I’ve never believed in evil. Adopting a Kierkegaardian/astrophysical approach, I’ve always maintained that, just like darkness is the absence of light and cold is the absence of heat, evil was the absence of good.
But confronted with this stark KCSAO reality, after 62 long years on this planet, I’ve changed my mind. Pure evil does exist as a separate entity because I’ve seen it in the form of prosecutor Maggie O’Brien, Civil Division head Michelle Niermann, felony prosecutor Bill Engerman, misdemeanor chief Joe Cullen, prosecutor Kelly Orland, Chief of Staff Chris Nelson, Judge John Dalton, Judge Susan Clancy Boles, Ogle County Judge Clayton Lindsey, and of course, former State’s Attorney Joe McMahon.
And what makes this new realization particularly pernicious is every last one of those individuals has the self-righteous nerve to think they’re one of the good guys.
To be clear again, we’re not talking about sociopathic evil or evil created as a result of years of abuse. That’s an entirely different construct. This kind of evil is so much worse because it’s a conscious choice. If there really is a Christian God, I wouldn’t want to be any of those aforementioned folks.
But here’s the truly terrifying thing, Dear Reader! If they’re willing to do this to me, a journalist imagine what they’re willing to do to you! Sleep well, my friends!
This certainly won’t be my final words on this subject.