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Judge in ex-House Speaker’s corruption case wants to keep trial on schedule

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(The Center Square) – The judge overseeing former House Speaker Michael Madigan’s corruption case said Thursday he wants to proceed to trial in October despite a Supreme Court ruling that could rattle the proceedings.

Judge John Robert Blakey said he wants prosecutors and defense attorneys to discuss any potential changes in the case after the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday narrowed the scope of the federal bribe statute to exclude gratuities – payments or rewards made after an official act.

In a docket entry Thursday, Judge Blakey said he wants any changes to the schedule made before the case is set to go to trial at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 8 in Courtroom 1203.

“The Court reiterates the importance of maintaining the current trial date (which requires sufficient notice to the defense to litigate and otherwise defend the charges), and notes that it would not be in the interests of justice to litigate motions regarding the current indictment if the Grand Jury might issue a new charging instrument,” according to the entry.

The Supreme Court decision in Snyder v. U.S. could upend several high-profile public corruption cases in Illinois, including ComEd 4’s 2023 conviction and the upcoming case against former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan. Judges paused those cases while waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision.

“Although a gratuity or reward offered and accepted by a state or local official after the official act may be unethical or illegal under other federal, state, or local laws, the gratuity does not violate §666 [the federal bribery statute],” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the decision for the majority.

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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