Bianchi Deposition in Zane Seipler Special Prosecutor Trial – Part 2

Yesterday McHenry County Blog ran Part 1 of a long article on Zane Seipler’s lawyer Blake Horwitz’ questioning of McHenry County State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi under oath.

Also present were attorneys Donna Kelly, representing Bianchi, Mark Gummerson, representing Keith Nygren personally, Bill Caldwell, representing McHenry County’s interests, plus Sheriff Keith Nygren and the man trying to get a Special Prosecutor appointed to probe whether he used taxpayer dollars on his campaign, former Deputy Sheriff and 2010 GOP primary candidate for Sheriff, Zane Seipler.

The February 14, 2011, letter referred to in the deposition. Click to enlarge.

After looking at what was said about “availability,” I decided just to start with the beginning of the questioning, Seipler attorney Horwitz asking them.

Horwitz starts the deposition with the letter dated Feb. 14, 2011.

That is followed by three pages of objections after which Horwitz says, “Let’s assume every objection on the planet’s going to enter on every question.”

When finally allowed to answer the question, Bianchi explains his campaign pledge to bring as much of the defense work for the County in-house, rather than by outside counsel, how it was saving taxpayers about $10,000 a week.

Horwitz elicited the information that the State’s Attorney’s Office was representing the Sheriff in February, 2011.

Horwitz focused on this sentence in the February letter:

“We want to make it clear that this Office of State’s Attorney has not and will not investigate the claims outline in Mr. Seipler’s petition.”

“…and your recent letter for the reasons stated above” ended the sentence and all three opposing attorneys objected to its exclusion from the question.

So, Horwitz asked Bianchi, “Do you have to include that…Is that part of the sentence? Is that a necessary corollary in your mind?”

Bianchi: “No.”

Lou Bianchi

Continuing, Bianchi explained what the sentence meant:

“When I reviewed the petition filed by Mr. Seipler, I did not review it and make any determination as the merits stated therein but I made a decision not to prosecute—not to investigate the Sheriff on these allegations—again, not having reviewed them on their merit—because I didn’t want to take the risk or chance that if we investigated the Sheriff, potentially someone in the future file a motion that would suggest that we were conflicted on any future cases.

“We’ve had a great deal of success representing the Sheriff. I did not want to jeopardize that if someone filed a motion saying we could no longer represent the Sheriff in the lawsuits against him or on his behalf or all the criminal cases that we represent the Sheriff in his—and the deputies. I didn’t want to take the chance that someone would be able to make that motion and jeopardize our ability to represent the Sheriff because I believe it would cost the county millions of dollars if that occurred.”

Horwitz asked if it were official policy not to investigate any of the allegations lodged by Seipler.

Bianchi: “We don’t have any specific written policy that says in this case we’re not going to. That’s the decision I made.”

Blake Horwitz

Horwitz broadened the question to include all investigations by all employees of the State’s Attorney’s Office, which led to another round of objections.

Afterward, Bianchi said, “The decision was made our office would not investigate those claims…My office won’t investigate.”

Horwitz asked if Bianchi might change his mind over the next six months.

Bianchi: “I don’t want to speculate…I don’t believe so.”

Apparently trying to pin down Bianchi’s plans, Horwitz asks, “Is it accurate to say that the Office of State’s Attorney will not investigate the merits behind the petition to appoint a special prosecutor?”

Bianchi: “I (expanded to include the entire office) have not in the past looked into the merits, and I don’t intend to in the future.”

At this point in the deposition, we reach the page I started with in which Bianchi refuses to comment on whether his office has investigated the Sheriff’s Office over the past seven years Bianchi has been State’s Attorney.

Horwitz probes a bit into th $10,000 a week savings figure, asking whether it was important to Bianchi to save the taxpayers that money.

Bianchi reiterates that it was a campaign pledge, not his job, then, says, “My job is to put the bad guys away.”

= = = = =
Part 3 Sunday.

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