United States

Prosecutors, defense won’t delay Madigan trial after Supreme Court ruling

(The Center Square) – Federal prosecutors and defense attorneys said they won’t seek to delay the high-profile corruption trial of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, despite a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Madigan’s defense team also voiced concerns about pre-trial publicity.

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of a federal bribery statute that makes it a crime for state and local officials to accept gifts valued at over $5,000 from a donor who had previously been awarded contracts or other government benefits thanks to the official’s efforts. The nation’s highest court narrowed the scope of the federal bribery statute to exclude gratuities – payments or rewards made after an official act. The 6-3 decision could affect how prosecutors across the country pursue public corruption cases.

In the case of Madigan, both defense attorneys and prosecutors said they plan to continue forward with a scheduled trial date on Oct. 8, according to a joint status report issued late Monday.

The joint status report noted differences in how the sides plan to approach issues such as jury selection, jury questionnaires and how to question prospective jurors.

Madigan’s team also raised concerns about pre-trial publicity.

“Defendant Madigan intends to file a motion seeking jury selection related relief based on the undue prejudice from pretrial publicity on or before August 28, 2024,” according to the joint court filing. “Defendant Madigan seeks to file this motion closer to the start of trial to allow for the fullest possible evaluation of the impact of pretrial publicity that continues to occur every day.”

Prosecutors requested a chance to review and reply to the motion when it is filed.

Madigan served in the Illinois House from 1971 to 2021, as speaker from 1983 to 1995 and again from 1997 to 2021. That made him one of the state’s most powerful politicians, especially given his role as head of the Democratic party in the state. He faces 23 counts of racketeering, bribery, and official misconduct as part of a federal indictment. Madigan has pleaded not guilty.

Madigan was initially charged along with convicted former lawmaker and lobbyist Michael McClain in March 2022 with 22 counts of racketeering and bribery for his alleged improper dealings with the state’s largest utility, ComEd. Prosecutors further alleged that he used his political power to unlawfully steer business to his private law firm, Madigan & Getzendanner. In October 2022, prosecutors filed a superseding indictment that charged Madigan and McClain with conspiracy related to an alleged corruption scheme involving AT&T Illinois.

A jury convicted McClain in a separate case in May 2023 involving similar allegations, but he has yet to be sentenced in that case.

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