Why a Kane County judge was livid with top prosecutor and public defender

  • Kane County Judge D.J. Tegeler was all smiles two years ago when we took this photo of him discussing his love of the Kansas City Chiefs football team, but he had a far less pleasant disposition last week when he took the county's top prosecutor and public defender to task for their handling of a case.

      Kane County Judge D.J. Tegeler was all smiles two years ago when we took this photo of him discussing his love of the Kansas City Chiefs football team, but he had a far less pleasant disposition last week when he took the county's top prosecutor and public defender to task for their handling of a case. Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2020

 
Updated 2/11/2022 9:54 AM

A Kane County judge took the county's top prosecutor and public defender to the woodshed last week, accusing them of violating a defendant's rights by getting his guilty plea in a DUI case vacated without the man's permission.

And without the judge handling the case, which happens to be him.

 

To say Judge D.J. Tegeler was steamed may be an understatement.

"I don't think you are protecting the rights of the people of the state of Illinois!" Tegeler exclaimed, when told of it during a Zoom hearing Feb. 3.

Malachi Hurt, 48, pleaded guilty Dec. 2 to a felony charge of aggravated driving under the influence of alcohol, his third violation. He accepted a sentence of four years in prison as part of the plea deal accepted by Chief Judge Clint Hull.

Hull was sitting in for Tegeler, who was undergoing surgery that day. Hull advised Hurt that, under state law, he had 30 days to withdraw his plea.

On Dec. 28, Kane County jail officers found Hurt unconscious and not breathing in his cell. He was hospitalized, put on a respirator and put into a medical coma, fighting COVID-19.

Jamie Mosser
Jamie Mosser -
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State's Attorney Jamie Mosser was informed, and she passed the news along to Public Defender Rachele Conant.

Hurt still had two days left to withdraw his plea -- but, being in a coma, obviously could not tell anybody if he wanted to do that.

So Mosser and Conant got permission from Hull to withdraw the plea, and did so on Dec. 31, a court holiday. They also got a personal-recognizance bond for Hurt, who would spend two weeks in a coma before transferring to a rehabilitation facility.

When Tegeler got word of all this, he was livid. He suggested Mosser had gone "judge shopping" to get one that would agree with her, and ordered her to appear in person before him.

While he was sympathetic to Hurt's situation, Tegeler said no one but the defendant had the right to withdraw his guilty plea.

He voiced skepticism about the motives behind the withdraw, suggesting it was done so the county wouldn't have to bear the costs of Hurt's hospitalization.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Mosser defended the legal action, saying the county otherwise didn't have the right to put Hurt on a medical furlough or GPS monitoring, because, having been sentenced, he was under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Corrections.

She added that, as with any other Kane County resident, she has to look out for Hurt's legal rights.

Even if Hurt wants to accept the same deal and plead guilty again, Tegeler said he may have to question whether the defendant has the physical or mental capacity to make such a deal, given the medical ordeal he has been through.

Despite his anger, Tegeler also told Mosser that he generally appreciates that she is trying some creative, different things, and stressed that he didn't believe anyone was acting maliciously.

Hurt remains hospitalized today and is due back in court March 10.

Eric Bykowski
Eric Bykowski
DuPage deputy dies

The DuPage County sheriff's office is mourning the loss of Deputy Eric Bykowski, who died Saturday at 46.

A 20-year veteran of the sheriff's office, Bykowski died of pneumonia, a complication of having COVID-19, said his wife, Karen.

She said he had been a corrections officer at the jail, but most recently enjoyed an assignment to the Sheriff's Work Alternative Program, where people perform tasks such as roadside cleanup as part of criminal sentences. Bykowski lived in Yorkville.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announces measures late last year for curbing carjackings in the county. Starting Saturday, his office will have a booth at the Chicago Auto Show to dispense advice on how to avoid becoming a victim.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart announces measures late last year for curbing carjackings in the county. Starting Saturday, his office will have a booth at the Chicago Auto Show to dispense advice on how to avoid becoming a victim. - Courtesy of the Cook County Sheriff's Department
Protect against carjackings

Most visitors to the Chicago Auto Show starting Saturday will be there to check out the kind of cutting-edge vehicles they may dream of one day owning.

But while they're there this year, attendees also can get some valuable advice on keeping the rides they have now.

The Cook County sheriff's office is hosting a booth at the show to provide safety information about carjackings and increase awareness of tracking technology that can help recover stolen cars and prosecute offenders.

Carjackings in Cook County were up 38% last year over 2020.

"This is a terrifying and dangerous crime that enables additional crimes to be carried out with the stolen vehicle," Sheriff Thomas J. Dart said in an announcement of the booth. "We need to work with the public, inform them of how to protect themselves and how important tracking information can be in these cases. We cannot give up trying to reduce this crime."

Visitors to the booth also will have a chance to fill out a consent-to-track form that will grant the sheriff's office access to vehicle tracking information if it's stolen. Having the completed form on hand will make it easier for law enforcement to access tracking information from manufactures quickly, officials say.

The consent form also is available on the sheriff's website, www.cookcountysheriff.org.

Learn about cybercrime

The Kane County state's attorney's office will host a Facebook Live discussion on cybercrime scams, from 6 to 7 p.m. Feb. 17, at facebook.com/KaneSAO.

Panelists include FBI Special Agent Siobhan Johnson; child cybercrimes expert Rich Wistocki, a retired Naperville Police detective; State's Attorney Jamie Mosser; and Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain.

Email questions in advance to nelsonchris@co.kane.il.us.

• Have a question, tip or comment? Email us at copsandcrime@dailyherald.com.

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