(The Center Square) – A judge on Wednesday pushed back the start of the state’s most high-profile public corruption case to October, citing a pending U.S. Supreme Court case focused on the federal bribery statute.
U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey set former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan’s racketeering case for Oct. 8, a six-month delay from the initial April start date.
Madigan’s defense team had asked for a stay in the case after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review Snyder v. United States, which focuses on an Indiana mayor convicted of accepting a bribe.
The judge didn’t agree to stay the case, but did postpone the start of the trial to avoid having to re-try the case if the Supreme Court’s decision in the Snyder case were to affect components of the federal bribery law.
“I do this reluctantly,” Blakely said. “It’s better to do it right than do it twice.”
Prosecutors had opposed the move and noted that most of the charges Madigan faces don’t involve the federal bribery statute. They noted that 15 of 23 counts Madigan faces wouldn’t be affected by the Supreme Court decision in Snyder v. United States.
Madigan appeared in court Wednesday in a dark suit and blue tie. He was not required to attend in person, but did so anyway. He spoke once at the request of the judge to confirm that he understood his right to speedy trial. After the hearing, he left the Everett M. Dirksen U.S. Courthouse without comment.
The U.S. Supreme Court decided in December to take up the Snyder case, which involves the former mayor of Portage, Indiana, who was convicted of accepting a $13,000 bribe. A decision in the Snyder case is expected by the end of June.
Prosecutors said Tuesday that a delay could affect their case, which they said encompasses a nearly decade long conspiracy by two state-regulated companies to dole out jobs and contracts to Madigan associates in exchange for favorable legislation in Springfield.
House Minority Leader Tony McCombie said Wednesday the delay was unfortunate and urged her colleagues to take up proposed ethics reforms in Springfield.
“It is disappointing to wait for justice to be served to Mike Madigan and his corrupt associates,” she said in a statement. “Speaker Welch and Democratic leaders: Pass ethics reform now.”
The new Oct. 8 trial date start is just about a month before the Nov. 5 election, when all seats in the Illinois House and about a third in the Senate will be on the ballot.
Madigan served in the Illinois House from 1971 to 2021. He served as speaker of the Illinois House from 1983 to 1995 and again from 1997 to 2021. That made him one of the state’s most powerful politicians, especially in combination with 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 said he was just doing his job as a politician. He has pleaded not guilty.
Madigan was initially charged along with 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.