Thursday, April 26, 2012
Judge Denies Sheriff's Special Prosecutor
Meyer's decision ended more than two years of eye-glazing argument over whether Bianchi's claim he couldn't, later wouldn't, conduct an investigation triggered a State Law allowing the judge to appoint someone else to do the job. Bianchi told Nygren Primary opponent Zane Seipler in 2010 he couldn't investigate his claims Nygren was cheating because, since the State's Attorney is the Sheriff's Office's official lawyer, there'd be a conflict of interest. Meyer ruled Wednesday Bianchi was obviously wrong, pointing to the State's Attorney's current prosecution of a Crystal Lake Deputy for alleged child molestation.
"There is no (intrinsic) conflict," said Meyer reading from a decision he said he'd heavily edited in the previous 24 hours. "(Bianchi's) decision not to investigate was an exercise of the discretion of the State's Attorney with whom it exclusively resides," he said. That wasn't the same thing as Bianchi's being "sick or absent", so, Meyer concluded, he lacked the authority to appoint someone in his stead.
Seipler attorney Blake Horwitz said afterward the judge's ruling put the pressure back on Bianchi to make an up or down call on Seipler's allegation in the politically-charged case. "The ball's absolutely in Lou's court," he said. "Whether he wants to investigate is up to him."
Meyer's decision applied only to Seipler's claim Nygren improperly used the Sheriff's Office logo in his campaign. "There's other criminal activity," Horwitz added, though, referring to allegations of more serious wrongdoing later on which Meyer excluded as extraneous.
The decision Wednesday promised no end to what appears to be a war about something among McHenry County Republicans. Bianchi's original demurral to investigate Nygren came as he, himself, was being investigated by a Special Prosecutor whose appointment he charged was politically motivated. That made all the more bizarre an appearance for a round of handshakes by retired Lake County Judge Henry "Skip" Tonigan before Meyer's decision. Tonigan was the Special Prosecutor who failed spectaculary to make anything stick in a host of charges he brought against Bianchi last year. He reportedly joked he'd just stopped by to make sure Meyer hadn't appointed him to investigate Nygren, too, then left.
In the pic: McHenry County State's Attorney Lou Bianchi.