Monday was the first hearing on McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi’s motion to hold Special Prosecutor Thomas McQueen and two of his investigators in contempt of court.
I asked Bianchi attorney Terry Ekl what happened.
“Basically, nothing,” he replied.
“McQueen didn’t show up. The Judge continued it.
“The Quest corporate lawyers said they need time to get criminal attorneys.”
Before I get into a summary of the motion under consideration, it should be known that this action is like a criminal trial. The subjects of the motion can end up in jail or be fined. If the possible jail time is more than six months or the find more than $500, a jury trial may be requested.
Clearly, Ekl is fired up.
“This one is just incredible,” he told me before I asked for what he considered most egregious.
Ekl pointed to the indictment of Bianchi assistant Joyce Synek.
Defense attorneys did not get the hard drive from which Synek was accused of deleting files until two weeks before her trial.
It turned out that the defense’s computer expert figured out that the files had been deleted by the McHenry County IT folks as they were trying to rid it of a virus.
“McQueen knew it,” Ekl explained.
“It is the most egregious violation of Brady material I have seen.” he continued.
For us non-lawyers, “Brady material” is evidence that is favorable to a defendant. It must be turned over to the defense prior to trial.
“To go ahead and indict her when you know there is an absolutely clear cut explanation for the deletion of documents is absolutely appalling and, then, not disclose that to the defense as part of their mandatory duty is highly contemptuous,” Ekl asserted.
Having given you a flavor of the upcoming proceedings, let me lay out the contents of the motion
Bianchi’s court filing says Special Prosecutor Thomas McQueen “engaged in gross misconduct by knowingly making material misrepresentations to Judge [Joseph] McGraw in open court and filed pleadings, failing to comply with court orders, and failing to disclose exculpatory evidence to Bianchi…”
That’s the summary of Ekl’s motion to hold McQueen in “criminal contempt.”
That same motion is aimed at Quest Consultants International employees Robert Scigalski and Patrick Hanretty.
McQueen and the Quest investigators are accused of basing the second criminal indictment on “false and manufactured evidence.”
During that second trial both Scigalski and Hanretty are said to have “knowingly” perjured themselves. McQueen is said to have known about the false testimony, but not having revealed that to the Judge.
After being victorious over McQueen and Special Prosecutor Henry Tonigan, Bianchi filed a Federal civil rights suit against both last January.
The result was the uncovering of 17,000 documents, mainly emails about the case.
The list of specific reasons McQueen should be held in contempt reference various motions and court orders for discovery.
Notes on an interview with former First Assistant State’s Attorney Tom Carroll was cited as not having been turned over to the defense.
Information that could be considered “exculpatory” included a statement from Carroll that he “knew of no situation where county monies were spent by Bianchi for private or political purposes.”
McQueen replied to Scigalski, “Disappointing; is he a defense plant?”
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