Judge Gordon Graham ruled against McHenry County’s attorney’s argument to cut the fees of Special Prosecutors Henry Tonigan and Thomas McQueen, but he’ll have another chance when McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi’s attorney Terry Ekl asks for similar relief.
And, if the County Board votes to appeal Graham’s decision, the Appellate Court may order him to revise downward the fees that he allowed the men he appointed.
In the meantime, there are other actors in the political arena.
Two have weighed in with legislation to make sure hundreds of thousands of tax dollars are not out the door because a judge appoints someone to be a Special Prosecutor.
Below is the press release from former County Board Chairman Mike Tryon whose immediate impact will be to raise more public outcry about Graham’s decision.
State Rep. Mike Tryon Sponsors Bill to Decrease
Costs Associated with Trials for Elected Officials
Rep. Jack Franks Co-Sponsors Bill to Address Bianchi Trial Concerns
McHenry County’s two State Representatives are working together to make sure that a county board is never again left on the hook for hefty legal bills associated with an investigation and trial of a public official.
House Bill 2558, which passed through the House on Friday, would correct many of the perceived financial issues that arose during the recent corruption trial of McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi. Rep. Mike Tryon (R-Crystal Lake) is the bill’s chief sponsor and Rep. Jack Franks (D-Marengo) is the bill’s chief co-sponsor.
The bill was filed by Tryon as a result of $312,259 thus far in legal bills that the McHenry County Board is under a court order to pay in association with the Bianchi investigation and trial. The county board unsuccessfully appealed the amount of the bills, and was ordered to pay them in full.
“The passage of House Bill 2558 would prohibit unanticipated legal bills like this from ever happening again in McHenry or any other Illinois county,” said Tryon. “It would certainly minimize the cost to taxpayers by forcing counties to look at using less expensive avenues for gathering forensic evidence and for attorney fees.”
The bill would mandate that when a sitting public official is investigated and tried on charges, the courts would look to other public prosecutors to do the work so costs could remain manageable. The bill would also require that the scope of the investigation be well-defined and that county boards be given estimates on costs so they could plan for the expense. The bill would also allow county boards to receive itemized bills for the fees.
“The forensic costs were more than what was anticipated in this ongoing McHenry County case,” said Tryon.
“We need to put a process in place that minimizes the financial impact and allows county boards to prepare. County board members are the custodians of the taxpayers’ money, the current method by which the they must blindly pay these bills is unacceptable.”