Special Prosecutor Henry Tonigan Tries to Get Out of His Job by Petitioning Rockford Judge

Special Prosecutor Henry Tonigan tried to get McHenry County Circuit Judge Gordon Graham to pull the plug on his assignment to prosecute McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi.

Judge Graham pointed out that the McHenry County Board had appealed his decision to allow the County Board into the fee portion of the Special Prosecutor case and that meant he did not have jurisdiction over the case anymore.

Henry Tonigan. Photo credit: First Electric Newspaper.

Thomas McQueen. Photo credit: First Electric Newspaper

Yesterday, Tonigan’s associate Thomas McQueen, who admitted he did most of the work on the second indictment of Bianchi, has petitioned Winnebago County Circuit Court Judge Joseph McGraw to get out of trying the case.

Today, Tonigan followed McQueen’s example, pointing to a letter he considered to be threatening that had been sent by Bianchi attorney Terry Ekl.  The letter appears to mirror the one that McQueen received.

From reading the paperwork, the withdrawal logic is similar, except that Tonigan points to his father’s ill condition and need for his help.

What Henry Tonigan said June 29, 2011, about his father's condition.

He also includes the following undated statement, which I presume is from Tonigan’s first attempt to drop out of the case.  It is below:

This statement come from an attachment to Henry Tonigan's June 29, 2011, motion to withdraw from prosecuting Lou Bianchi. The exhibit is undated.

Have you ever talked to supervisors who have told you the excuses that malingerers use to explain why they took the day off?

Pity the one who says that his or her mother’s father has just died.

And, then uses the same excuse again.

On April 25th, McHenry County Special Prosecutor filed a motion saying he wanted to withdraw from the criminal prosecution of McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi because

  • his 86-year old father has an unnamed medical condition that requires his attention, that
  • his sister can’t help has her own serious medical problems and has moved from his abode to California.

But now, the Daily Herald reports Tonigan has enough time to take on the investigation of whether Grayslake school district officials/teachers that used public resources to help elect school board members.  That sounds like a case for the Lake County State’s Attorney, not a retired judge who needs time to take care of his father.

The headline from the Daily Herald's article Tuesday that Henry Tonigan is taking on another job, while declining the finish the one assigned him in McHenry County by Judge Gordon Graham.

Asked about what McQueen was doing before Tonigan’s motion appeared, Bianchi attorney Terry Ekl explained,

“McGraw is the only possibility for McQueen to escape this case.

Terry Ekl explaining that he is about to file an April motion to replace Special Prosecutor Henry Tonigan and his assistant Thomas McQueen before Judge Gordon Graham.

“Graham, clearly, will not issue any orders.

“What McQueen really is asking is that his appearance on behalf of the special state’s attorney, Skip Tonigan, be stricken.

“As you know this is a very unusual situation.

“In my 35 years practicing criminal law I have never heard of a prosecutor wanting to ‘withdraw’ from a case.

“If a prosecutor does not want to prosecute a case he will dismiss the case.

“That is what should happen here.”

Ekl also observed,

“This is nothing but an excuse to try to get out of the mess that he and Tonigan created.

“There is (rarely an) ability of a prosecutor to withdraw on a case they have brought.

“McGraw may agree to strike the appearance of McQueen and then Tonigan can continue to prosecute the case. Remember that Tonigan is the special State’s attorney and McQueen is his assistant.

“Although this is a further mess I do not believe that McGraw will change the trial date.”

The case is up before McGraw in Rockford on Friday at 10:00.


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