Kane County judge: Special prosecutor not needed in strip-search case

  • Ismael Jaimes-Meza

    Ismael Jaimes-Meza

 
 
Updated 12/16/2015 6:02 PM

A Kane County judge denied Wednesday a request for a special prosecutor to investigate sheriffs officers who conducted an improper strip search of a Minnesota man arrested in April after a traffic stop on I-90 near Elgin.

Ismael Jaimes-Meza, 23, of St. Paul. has been released from jail while prosecutors appeal a ruling that prohibits methamphetamine to be introduced as evidence at trial.

 

Defense attorney Kathleen Colton pushed for an investigation by the Illinois Attorney General's office into possible misconduct by Kane County sheriff's deputies involved in the search, saying they purposefully disregarded state law and the state's attorney's office had a conflict of interest because it represents the sheriff in lawsuits and benefits from monetary seizures.

In his ruling Wednesday, Judge John Barsanti acknowledged that Colton and Meza had legal standing to make the request and that State's Attorney Joe McMahon and Sheriff Don Kramer were both allied as law enforcement officers, but this was not enough to create an appearance of impropriety.

Barsanti said prosecutors have a great deal of discretion in their jobs, and if voters don't believe prosecutors are doing a good job, "That's a problem solved on Election Day, not by a special prosecutor."

Colton said she was disappointed by Barsanti's ruling and still believes intervention is needed.

"I'm confident the state's attorney is not going to be prosecuting any deputies involved in the illegal strip search to which they testified to in open court," Colton said.

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The state's attorney's office is appealing Barsanti's ruling from earlier this year that the strip search, in which 89 grams of methamphetamine were seized, was illegal.

Jaimes-Meza's girlfriend and the driver of their vehicle also were strip searched, but never charged with any crimes.

The drug charges against Jaimes-Meza still stand, but could be dismissed if the appellate court agrees the search was improper and evidence seized from it should be banned from trial. There is no timetable for the appellate court to make its decision.

Jaimes-Meza faces between six and 30 years in prison if convicted.

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