Lester: Illinois Supreme Court justice goes undercover in bond court
Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke sometimes goes "undercover" to watch Cook County's bond court call and says she doesn't always like what she sees.
On one occasion, she says, she was appalled to watch a woman with "obvious mental issues" brought into a courtroom wearing a garbage bag after she had been arrested in her underwear.
"I was ready to scream in court that day," Burke says. "How could the judge permit it? How could the public defender? How could the sheriff? How does anybody? It's so degrading."
'Cold and mechanical'
Cook County courts -- including those in Rolling Meadows and Skokie -- need to address the "cold, mechanical manner" of bond court, says Burke, a member of the state's highest court since 2006 and wife of powerful Chicago Alderman Edward Burke. She's also calling for an "audit" of how long judges work each day.
A spokesman for Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans says changes already underway in bond court partly account for a decrease in inmates in the Cook County Jail from 10,500 in 2013 to 7,155 as of Friday.
Pat Milhizer pointed to a software system in use since Aug. 1 in Rolling Meadows and set to roll out in September in Skokie that analyzes the likelihood a defendant will commit another crime. That information goes to the judge for use in setting bail.
Evans faces an election challenge Nov. 8 from chancery Judge Thomas Allen, a former Chicago alderman.
Across the pond
Burke also tells me the Illinois Supreme Court's justices -- spread ideologically across the board -- have become such good friends that five of the seven took a trip to Ireland together in May.
Lawyers for ousted College of DuPage President Robert Breuder have served four former trustees with demands for all of their emails and other communications about Breuder's contract and performance, court files show.
Also among items Breuder wants from former board Chair Kathy Hamilton, current Chair Deanne Mazzochi and trustees Frank Napolitano and Charles Bernstein: All documents and communications referring to Breuder's October 2015 termination or the hiring of Alix Partners to conduct a financial audit of the College of Dupage. Of course, because the trustees are being sued in both their official capacities and as individuals, it will be interesting to see what private emails surface as the case continues.
Departing GOP state Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine
Who is Gov. Bruce Rauner backing to replace departing GOP state Sen. Matt Murphy of Palatine, who will step down Sept. 15? The official response, says a source at the top of Rauner's campaign operation, is no one. "We have lots of friends interested," he said.
Among those interested in the job are Republicans state Rep. David Harris of Arlington Heights, state Rep. Tom Morrison of Palatine, Rolling Meadows Mayor Tom Rooney, Palatine Township Supervisor Sharon Langlotz-Johnson, Palatine Committeeman Aaron Del Mar and Arlington Heights Trustee Joe Farwell.
Republican committeemen from Palatine, Wheeling, Elk Grove, Maine and Barrington townships will meet in mid-September to select a replacement.
Kudos to Castro
State Superintendent of Education Tony Smith highlighted Elk Grove High School teacher Ricky Castro -- a finalist for Illinois Teacher of the Year -- in his weekly message last week. Castro has spoken openly about his involvement in gangs as a young teen in Chicago, but credits caring teachers for helping guide him on the right path.
Claude Walker, a Bensenville native and longtime aide of former Gov. Pat Quinn, has taken to writing science fiction novels now that he's retired from his state job (though he still dabbles in political work). His latest novel, "Drone Dogs," features a local cop and FBI agent who take to the skies to end a gang drone war. Check it out at iUniverse.com
Kevin Bacon was at Peggy Kinnane's Irish Restaurant in Arlington Heights last Thursday for a Pitch Fest event, hearing from Illinois nonprofits that want to work with his charity, Six Degrees, as well as Public Allies. It wasn't the first time Bacon and Derek Hanley, owner of Peggy's, crossed paths. Hanley tells me that 25 years ago, while working at Los Angeles bar Molly Malones, he used to pull pints for Bacon all the time. This time, the actor and musician didn't imbibe -- heading over to the Metropolis afterward to perform.