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Michael Madigan seeks to delay corruption trial

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(The Center Square) – Former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan asked a judge Tuesday to delay his corruption trial.

Madigan and co-defendant Michael McClain asked U.S. District Court Judge John Robert Blakey to stay proceedings in the case or reschedule the trial date to the fall of 2024, after the Supreme Court decides another case involving the federal bribery statute. The Madigan case is set for trial in April 2024. The Supreme Court is expected to decide Snyder v. United States by June 2024.

“Considering the monumental impact that the Snyder decision will have on this irrefutably complex case and the resulting prejudice to the defendants from denying a stay, the defendants respectfully request that the court stay the proceedings or, in the alternative, reset the trial date to the fall of 2024, after the Supreme Court has rendered its decision in Snyder,” the defense attorneys wrote.

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 and that the state’s laws are overly broad. 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.

Madigan’s attorneys said that federal prosecutors failed to make their case that Madigan engaged in quid pro quo transactions. That’s at the heart of the Synder case.

James Snyder was the mayor of Portage, Indiana. He was convicted of accepting $13,000 from a truck company after the company won bids to sell garbage trucks to the city, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Snyder said the money was payment to his consulting business and the truck company owner stated that at the trial. The government alleged Snyder received the payment as a gratuity and didn’t have to prove the payment was for a bid approval.

The Seventh Circuit upheld the conviction but noted the same conduct would not have been a federal crime in the First and Fifth Circuit courts.

“A stay, or at the very least a continuance of the trial date, will remove the risk that the court and the parties will waste time and resources working in a murky landscape around section 666 that is about to be clarified by the Supreme Court,” defense attorneys wrote. “Denying the stay will prejudice the defendants by requiring them to prepare for a trial without a clear understanding of the elements that constitute the charges that they are defending against.”

Defense attorneys said the pause would be needed.

“To be clear, the defendants are not asking that we simply put this case on a shelf for the next few months,” they wrote. “The parties will make good use of the time during any continuance. As noted, this is an incredibly complex case with a massive amount of discovery.”

Federal prosecutors opposed the motion, but had not filed a formal response as of Tuesday afternoon.

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