Quick Hits – Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should – part 2

When we last left off, we were debunking Kane County State’s Attorney’s Joe McMahon’s errant assertions for actively pursuing the special prosecutor position in Cook County’s Jason Van Dyke murder trial.

Since you’re well aware of the tragic Laquan McDonald story, let’s avoid all the background bullshit and get right back to it!

5. The “community” and taxpayers are not happy with McMahon’s choice

McMahon told the Trib that the Kane County State’s Attorney’s office involvement in the Van Dyke case:

“it gives the entire community confidence in our justice system and shows the willingness of public prosecutors, even in the face of public criticism and second guessing, to pursue, at all times, justice that is integral to our liberty.”

Apparently, he’s been watching too many Quentin Tarantino movies. And most of us harbor far more entertaining flights of fancy than to think the public actually “gets” that kind of abstract logic.

Kane County Judicial Center
Kane County Judicial Center

Ah! But the truth is the “community” within range of the impending Maxxam Partners’ Campton Hill rehab center are not at all amused that, because McMahon was so busy in Chicago, the KCSAO mounted no defense to that lawsuit settlement.

And those Illinois Youth Center – St. Charles current and former employees, and their family members, aren’t at all happy that their pleas to prosecute the most violent inmates continue to go unheeded.

But the most consistent complaint I hear from his constituents is, McMahon won’t address anything that doesn’t advance his career. So, no Joe! The “community” is not nearly as happy about your pursuit of truth, justice, and the American way as you think they are. But you’ve always been oblivious to most political realities.

As I alluded to in part one, the real problem with McMahon’s poor decision-making is that he’s using his garden hose to put out a neighbor’s fire while his house is burning to the ground. Everything I hear from current and former KCSAO staffers depicts an office in complete disarray:

  1. Though the sexual harassment issue has somewhat subsided as a result of coverage here, that scandal has not nearly been addressed. Female prosecutors are still subjected to it, and if it isn’t that, it’s head felony prosecutor Bill Engerman regularly belittling them just because he can.
  2. The turnover rate at the KCSAO is so absurd that defense attorneys can’t keep up with who the new prosecutors are, and some staffers don’t know who their supervisors are. One former prosecutor told me, “That office sucks the heart and soul right out of you and the people in charge don’t care. They’ll just hire a new young prosecutor.”
  3. As The First Ward previously reported, in McMahon’s constant absence, the KCSAO is making no effort to determine what is and isn’t a felony. While the number of KC felony case reviews has remained remarkably consistent over the last five years, the number of felony charges has drastically increased. That means they’re basically ignoring their responsibility and simply letting the judge sort it out. It would seem that Joe McMahon is only interested in Cook County justice.
  4. The most frivolous of lawsuits against Kane County go undefended necessitating consistent five and six-figure settlements. It’s gotten so bad that the county’s insurance carrier just dropped them, which means their rate will double going forward. Call me crazy, but that seems like a net cost to taxpayers to me!
  5. McMahon recently asked the county board for more prosecutors. He claimed they were necessary to get the job done. But if that’s the case, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, then why are five of Kane County’s top litigators, and an unspecified number of support staff, spending months working on a Cook County case?

And thanks to some astute readers, I discovered that these kinds of special prosecutions are typically handled by the Attorney General’s or the Illinois State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor’s office. It is exceedingly rare for a sitting state’s attorney to take a major case in another county. There were plenty of options aside from the KCSAO.

But we all know why Joe actively applied for the position.

During one of his more recent verbal altercations with the Chairman, McMahon declared, “The people of Kane County can express their support or displeasure for me any time my name is on an election ballot.”

I hope you remember that in 2020 my friends!

5 thoughts on “Quick Hits – Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should – part 2

  1. The more I think about it I cannot remember a astute Attorney from one country acting as a Special prosecutor in another country
    Even this year when Judge OShea from DuPage was charged in DuPage case sent to alameda and A G prosecuted it
    I think this is a homework assignment for Jeff. How many times state wide has a State Attorney from one county acted as a Special Prosecutor in another county
    For extra credit how many times has the A G office gone to prosecute in a counties because of a conflict in just one year

    1. Jim,

      You’re one of the reasons I finally caught on to this. And the chairman asked me the same question, but they don’t keep stats on that kind of thing, which would mean going through every major case in every county in Illinois and I do not have time for that!


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