Emanuel testifies on Chicago residency today

December 14, 2010

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(WBEZ/Sam Hudzik)
The scene at a preliminary hearing in the Emanuel case last week.

Rahm Emanuel is scheduled to testify at a hearing Tuesday to determine whether he is eligible to appear on the February ballot for Chicago mayor. The former congressman and White House chief of staff will be questioned by the roughly two dozen objectors who say he fails to meet the one-year residency requirement to run for mayor.

Emanuel is expected to face questions about his tax returns, voter registration records and lease agreements. Kevin Forde, one of Emanuel's lawyers, argued Monday in a preliminary hearing that some other subjects that have been brought up by objectors are out of bounds.

"We're going to strenuously object to any questions about the children and where they get their shots, or anything to do with medical treatment of the children," Forde said. "All of this stuff is way beyond the limited issue here."

That issue, Forde says, is whether Emanuel intended to abandon his residency in Chicago when he went to work for the Obama Administration in early 2009. Objectors argue that Emanuel gave up that residency when he rented out his house on Chicago's North Side.

Joseph A. Morris, the hearing officer who will listen to the testimony and make a recommendation to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners, has said he will rein-in questioners whose inquiries he deems irrelevant or redundant.

Emanuel is expected to face several rounds of questioning, lasting for hours. Judging by the tone of the preliminary hearings, it is likely to become rather dramatic, at times.

That was the case on Monday afternoon, when Morris ruled that Emanuel's wife, Amy Rule, would likely not have to testify. A subpoena for Rule had been sought by some objectors, and Morris issued one last week on a "provisional" basis. But when Morris indicated Monday he would quash that subpoena, one objector asked him if he was "partial" to Emanuel.

Another of the most outspoken members of the anti-Emanuel crowd, Jeffrey Joseph Black, announced that the hearing officer was putting himself in "extreme moral and legal peril."

Morris quickly fired back.

"If you're trying to threaten me and scare me and force me to decide this case your way because you're holding in front of me the boogie man of personal, legal or moral peril to me, it won't work," Morris told Black. "I will decide the case fairly, and the facts as I see them, and on the law as I read it. Simple as that."

Also Monday, the lead lawyer involved in the challenge to Emanuel's candidacy, Burt Odelson, worked out a "stipulation of facts" with the candidate's legal team. This is an agreed-to set of facts that are entered into the record in hopes of speeding up future hearings. It includes statements such as "Rahm Emanuel is not on active military duty," and "Rahm Emanuel's children attend school in Washington, D.C. and have attended school there since at least the fall of 2009."

One of the stipulated statements is, in fact, false. Likely a typo, it reads, "Rahm Emanuel was employed as Chief of Staff for the President of the United States from January 20, 2010, until leaving his position in October 2010."

Emanuel's service for the president began on that date in 2009, rather than 2010.

Tuesday's hearing, which is likely to be packed with media and spectators, begins at 9 a.m. in a basement conference room below 69 W. Washington in downtown Chicago.