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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

High court issued 115 opinions during Ald. Burke’s alleged scheme, starting day after Justice Burke ruled against redistricting reform

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By The Madison County Record | Sep 17, 2019

Justice Burke and Chicago Alderman Burke

CHICAGO – Anne Burke prepares to lead the Illinois Supreme Court while her husband, alderman Ed Burke, prepares to defend 14 counts of corruption. 

The Justices chose Anne to succeed Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier on Sept. 10, for a term to start in October and run three years.  

Grand jurors at U.S. district court in Chicago indicted Alderman Burke in May, alleging he offered favorable action to business owners who hired his law firm.  

The indictment covered events from August 2016 to last September, a period in which the Supreme Court issued 115 opinions. 

Alderman Burke’s alleged scheme started a day after the Supreme Court resolved a heavy constitutional case. 

On Aug. 25, 2016, Justice Burke and three others denied ballot access for a petition to change the process for drawing legislative boundaries. 

The majority found the petition failed to comport with restrictions in the Illinois constitution protecting its integrity.

Dissenting Justice Robert Thomas wrote with two concurring colleagues that, “The Illinois Constitution is meant to prevent tyranny, not enshrine it.” 

On Aug. 26, 2016, according to Alderman Burke’s indictment, he proposed a plan to another city council member about development of the old Post Office in Chicago. 

Alderman Burke’s plan provided that this member, Alderman A in the indictment, would talk to the developer about hiring Alderman Burke’s firm for property tax work. 

As chairman of the city council’s finance committee, Alderman Burke would arrange funding for the project.  

If it happened, Alderman Burke and Alderman A would talk about a marketing arrangement. 

On Sept. 22, 2016, Justice Burke and five other Justices gave the Illinois Gaming Board exclusive jurisdiction in disputes over placement and operation of terminals. 

They affirmed Fifth District appellate judges, who ruled that former Madison County associate judge Donald Flack took jurisdiction without authority.

On Sept. 26, according to Alderman Burke’s indictment, he asked Alderman A to set up a meeting with the developer. 

Grand jurors found Alderman A asked about the marketing arrangement and Alderman Burke said he believed in sharing the wealth. 

On Oct. 20, 2016, Justice Burke and five other Justices cleared Union Pacific of liability for an accident that severed the legs of a worker removing a bridge. 

They found the railroad didn’t build the bridge or use it. 

On Oct. 27, 2016, according to Alderman Burke’s indictment, he and Alderman A met with the developer in Ed’s office at City Hall. 

Grand jurors found that Alderman A asked about their arrangement afterward and that, “Burke encouraged Alderman A to refer additional clients to Burke’s firm.” 

They found Alderman A asked again on Nov. 7, 2016. 

“Burke advised Alderman A that if Alderman A received a percentage payment of Burke’s fee, the payment would have to be made indirectly to Alderman A through a lawyer or alternatively, Alderman A would be paid as a marketing representative on an hourly basis,” grand jurors charged. 

After that, according to the indictment, Alderman A cooperated with federal agents. 

On Dec. 1, 2016, Justice Burke and five others precluded private citizens from making claims on bonds of public officials.

The dispute came from Madison County, where former treasurer Fred Bathon rigged bids against property owners with delinquent taxes. 

On Dec. 12, 2016, according to Alderman Burke’s indictment, Alderman A carried out a ruse at the direction of law enforcement. 

Grand jurors found he told Alderman Burke that the developer understood that if they helped him with permits, and Ed helped him with Amtrak, he would retain Ed’s firm. 

Ed allegedly said, “Okay great.” 

On Dec. 15, 2016, Justice Burke issued a dissent in a 4-3 decision affirming a conviction for murder in the first degree. 

She wrote that the judge should have instructed the jury on murder in the second degree and involuntary manslaughter; that two stab wounds were superficial, and that the fatal wound was unusual and not indicative of an attempt to kill. 

On Dec. 22, 2016, according to Alderman Burke’s indictment, he and Alderman A reviewed information Burke obtained from an Amtrak employee. 

Grand jurors found Alderman Burke noted that the developer’s company hadn’t hired him and that the company owned additional properties in the Chicago area. 

On Dec. 30, 2016, Justices Burke and Charles Freeman dissented from a decision finding a prison officer didn’t violate an inmate’s Miranda rights. 

Freeman wrote that the Fifth Amendment guarantee against compulsory incrimination must be carefully guarded and not unnecessarily compromised. 

On Jan. 25, 2017, according to Alderman Burke’s indictment, he told Alderman A he wouldn’t take any action for the developer unless he retained his firm. 

Grand jurors found Alderman Burke said, “The cash register has not rung yet.” 

On Feb. 17, 2017, Anne delivered majority opinions in two 4-3 decisions. 

In one, the majority found that a prisoner who wrote nothing more than “claim of ineffective assistance” deserved a preliminary inquiry. 

In the other, the majority vacated an adult sentence of a juvenile and ordered a hearing for him in the trial court. 

Justice Burke wrote that if the court found he wasn’t subject to adult sentencing, the proper remedy would be to discharge the proceedings since he was now over 21. 

On March 9, 2017, according to Alderman Burke’s indictment, Alderman A said the developer needed help from the water commissioner. 

Grand jurors found Alderman A said, “We should be able to get the tax work and maybe get my consulting from you.” 

They found Alderman Burke caused a former water commissioner to contact the water commissioner, who became personally involved in resolving the matter. 

On May 18, 2017, Justice Burke delivered a unanimous opinion against an estate executor who sued her brother over a real estate transaction. 

On May 19, 2017, according to Alderman Burke’s indictment, Alderman A said the developer’s company still had problems with the water department and Amtrak. 

Grand jurors found, “Burke told Alderman A that Burke had not heard about getting hired to do the tax work, so Burke was not motivated to provide any assistance concerning the Post Office project.” 

They found that on May 26, 2017, Alderman A said he talked to the developer and Alderman Burke said, “So did we land the tuna?” 

They found Alderman A told Alderman Burke the developer agreed to provide tax work, and Burke told Alderman A there would be a day of accounting for him. 

On June 2, 2017, Justices Burke and Freeman dissented from reversal of a conviction due to faulty jury instructions. 

She wrote that the majority ignored precedents and added, “You cannot knock the legs out from under a table and expect that the table will continue to float in midair.” 

From June 19 to 23, 2017, according to Alderman Burke’s indictment, he asked the developer for email of outstanding issues, received it, talked to an Amtrak executive, and told the developer he made a lot of progress. 

Grand jurors found that on Oct. 6, 2017, Alderman A said the developer’s company was seeking city support for tax increment financing. 

They found Alderman Burke and Alderman A met with the developer and his group. 

They found that afterward, Alderman Burke grew angry and made a comment about what they could do with themselves. 

They found Alderman A said he told the developer the financing request would go before Alderman Burke’s committee and Burke said, “Good luck getting it on the agenda.” 

On Oct. 19, 2017, Justice Burke filed a dissent and a partial dissent. 

In the first, she and two other Justices would have allowed a malpractice action on a possible agency relationship between a health care worker and a hospital. 

In the other, she dissented alone against a decision that conviction for aggravated vehicular hijacking doesn’t require proof of dispossession. 

She argued that the law didn’t cover commandeering and wrote, “I am well aware that the word ‘hijacking’ has a certain connotation, and therefore the temptation to attach an expanded meaning to the statute is understandable.” 

On Dec. 29, 2017, Justice Burke delivered an opinion with five colleagues clearing the Chicago Park District of willful and wanton conduct in a bicycle accident. 

She wrote, “Cracks and potholes in paved surfaces are an unfortunate but unavoidable reality, particularly in climates such as Chicago’s.” 

On Jan. 18, 2018, according to Alderman Burke’s indictment, Alderman A asked if he’d support the developer’s request for a Class L designation worth about $100 million. 

Grand jurors found Alderman Burke said he didn’t care about them and would do as Alderman A wished with respect to the project. 

On Feb. 16, 2018, Justices Burke and Karmeier dissented from a decision that forfeiture of a three wheel Harley-Davidson motorcycle didn’t constitute an excessive fine. 

She wrote that the ruling of the trial judge consisted of three conclusory sentences and contained no discussion of the totality of the circumstances. 

At a Chicago city council meeting on Feb. 28, 2018, Alderman Burke moved for Class L designation and the council approved it. 

On Aug. 24, 2018, according to Alderman Burke’s indictment, a representative of the developer was sent a contingent fee agreement with Burke’s signature. 

Grand jurors found it provided that an affiliate of the developer’s company would retain the firm for tax work with respect to a specific property. 

They found it would provide no less than $15,000 a year for the firm through 2020. 

The finance committee approved tax increment financing on Sept. 17, 2018, and the city council approved it on Sept. 20.  

Prosecutors filed a complaint against Alderman Burke in January. 

When grand jurors indicted him, they indicted his assistant Peter Andrews. 

They found Alderman Burke and Andrews agreed that Andrews would interfere with operation of a fast food restaurant based on the ground that it had no driveway permit. 

They found Andrews asked the company that owned it to shut down a remodeling project, and the owner halted the project. They found Andrews met with an executive of the company and told him Alderman Burke’s office didn’t sign off on the plans. 

They found the owner applied for a driveway permit and Alderman Burke caused his staff to obstruct its approval. 

They found Alderman Burke met with the executive, who said he told a company representative to start the process for hiring his firm. They found Burke told the executive he would try to get the remodeling started again. 

They found he invited the executive to a fundraiser at his home. 

The transportation department approved a driveway permit. 

Grand jurors also returned a bribery indictment against Charles Cui, owner of property at 4901 West Irving Park Road, for hiring Alderman Burke’s firm. 

District Judge Robert Dow plans a status conference on Oct. 8. 

As of Sept. 12, he hadn’t set a trial date.

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