Sheriff Keith Nygren Off Special Prosecutor Hook, State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi Given Permission to Fish
He also ruled that the fears of McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi that he might lose his law license because of a conflict of interest should he investigate and/or prosecute the Sheriff were unfounded.
Judge Meyer read his decision because “I’ve amended it so much in the last 24 hours.”
He put much emphasis on the lack of direction from the Illinois General Assembly, stating, “The Court is limited to the statutes,” which he ruled did not authorize the appointment of a Special Prosecutor in the circumstances before him.
Judge Meyer concluded that Bianchi’s decision not to investigate was within in his prosecutorial discretion, that he “decided to chose this course.”
It was the State’s Attorney’s “decision not to investigate..his discretion.”
Using as an example the State’s Attorney’s current prosecution of Sheriff’s Deputy Greg Pyle’s case, although not by name, just by the charge of “criminal predatory sexual assault of a child,” the Court pointed out that there was no “per se conflict,” as argued by Zane Seipler’s attorney Blake Horwitz.
“The State’s Attorney has not declined to be involved in the prosecution,” Judge Meyer stated.
The 27-month old case was brought by then-former Sheriff’s Deputy Zane Seipler in January, 2010, while he was running against Nygren for the Republican nomination for Sheriff.
After the decision, Bianchi’s Special Assistant State’s Attorney Bill Caldwell said,
“The County is very happy that we do not have another Special Prosecutor, especially as it relates to a 5-point or a 7-point star.”
Caldwell also said, “It’s teed up for the Appellate Court,” if Seipler decides to appeal.
Later, when Horwitz said he didn’t know if the case would be appealed, Caldwell interjected, “I love you, Blake.”
An appeal would mean more legal fees for Caldwell, of course.
After conferring with two Assistant State’s Attorneys in private, Horwitz stated,
“The Judge said very clearly Lou Bianchi’s office can prosecute criminal [conduct. There's] no conflict.
“The only question is whether the State’s Attorney [will do so].”
Referring to the evidence that could be investigated, Horwitz said, “There’s much more [than using taxpayer dollars to advance the Sheriff's political campaign].
“He doesn’t need a private citizen to tell him what to do.
“The State’s Attorney can prosecute [Sheriff Nygren].
Bianchi was represented most recently by Special Assistant State’s Attorney Bill Caldwell. Previously Donald Leist, who has since moved over to the Sheriff’s Department as Affirmative Action Officer, represented the State’s Attorney, for whom he worked.
Appearing before the court session began was Bianchi Special Prosecutor Henry Tonigan. When I asked if he was there to be “an expert witness,” he replied that he was not, that he just happened to be in the courthouse on other business.