The Brian Towne saga isn’t over just yet.
Following last week’s dismissal of charges against him because his right to a speedy trial had been violated, former LaSalle County State’s Attorney Brian Towne was back at the defense table today as his political rival tried to pursue an appeal.
State’s Attorney Karen Donnelly’s end game is to remove Special Prosecutor Greg McClintock from the case, and take over an appeal prosecution herself. McClintock, who took over the prosecution from Donnelly, isn’t inclined to carry the case further, putting him at odds with Donnelly. Towne’s defense team is resisting not only the appeal, but turning prosecution over to Donnelly, as they contend she is biased against Towne. In fact, they wanted Donnelly to take the stand to establish bias. She declined, as was her right. Complicating things is the fact that State’s Attorneys in counties the size of LaSalle typically don’t handle appeals cases.
In the middle of this drama sits Judge Clark Erickson, who eventually only decided today that hiring a new special prosecutor will not prove a hardship for LaSalle County. He arrived at this decision only after Donnelly offered but failed to produce County Board Chairman Jim Olson as an expert witness on the county’s shrinking finances. Instead, she questioned Board Finance Committee member Gary Small, who estimated the county has about seven million dollars in reserve – enough to pay for a new special prosecutor, in the judge’s opinion.
Having ruled that money’s not an issue, Judge Erickson then gave out written homework. By next Friday:
- He wants Donnelly to state her ability to come back to the case for a possible appeal. And he wants her to make a case that she SHOULD step in if the special prosecutor is terminated.
- He wants McClintock to find out if the state Attorney General’s office can step in to help prosecute an appeal. And he wants to know if McClintock believes he should assist or leave.
- And, from Towne’s defense team, the judge wants to hear how they believe any Donnelly bias against Towne disqualifies her from prosecuting an appeal.
The judge will make his decision Monday, August 19.