Three lines from the Record’s recent report on the expunging of drug charges against Katherine O’Malley, daughter of former St. Clair County Circuit Judge Michael O’Malley, are especially telling:
An anonymous judge expunged the record of her felony drug case.
Judge Vincent Lopinot dismissed one ticket and reduced the other charge. . . .
. . . Judge Julie Katz vacated both fines.
As we reported last week, Katherine O’Malley was charged with felony drug possession, shoplifting, and 14 traffic violations – all in the same year -- but fined only $1,000 after pleading guilty to shoplifting, improper lane usage, and a seatbelt violation.
That’s a sweet plea deal. It makes you wonder: Are such generous terms available to the general public or does it help to be “connected” in one way or another – as the relative of a public official or as the reliable supplier of illicit substances to persons meting out “justice?”
O’Malley’s co-defendant in the drug case was the now notorious Sean McGilvery, whose charge was dismissed, though not expunged, by Circuit Judge Michael Cook, one of McGilvery’s best customers.
We have been told that former Judge Cook was complicit in some of McGilvery’s crimes. Isn’t it fair to say that Judges Katz, Lopinot, and “Anonymous” were complicit, too, in the offenses committed by O’Malley for which they reduced, vacated, or expunged charges? And would they also be complicit, to some extent, in any subsequent transgressions by O’Malley, facilitated by the leniency?
What we don’t know is the motivation, and whether or not it was unethical or criminal or both. We look forward to what the federal investigation finds.
“Anonymous” should come forward, or be identified, and that judicial trio should explain to the citizens of St. Clair County the reasons for the indulgent treatment of O’Malley – and convince us, if they can, that there are not two systems of justice here – a lenient one for the privileged few, and a harsher one for the rest of us.