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Mike Madigan

Former Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Chicago.

Ashlee Rezin

Judge delays corruption trial of Michael Madigan while Supreme Court considers case out of Indiana

A federal judge is delaying the corruption trial for former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan while the U.S. Supreme Court considers a separate case out of Indiana.

The trial had been set for April but was rescheduled Wednesday to Oct. 8. U.S. District Judge John Blakey made the decision after telling prosecutors they were risking a retrial if they proceeded before the high court rules.

“I don’t do this lightly,” the judge said. “I do it reluctantly, I’ll say that. But it’s better to do it right than to do it twice.”

Blakey asked Madigan, seated at the defense table, if he consented to the delay.

“Yes I do, your honor,” Madigan replied.

Madigan is among a handful of public corruption defendants in Chicago who have asked that their cases be put on hold while the Supreme Court considers the corruption conviction of James Snyder, a former mayor of Portage, Indiana.

Illinois and Indiana are both overseen by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Madigan’s attorneys say the high court’s decision in the Snyder case could have a “monumental impact” on the former speaker’s. Prosecutors argued against a delay, insisting they were prepared to take Madigan to trial while working around the contested issues.

Madigan is accused of leading a “criminal enterprise” for nearly a decade designed to enhance his political power and generate income for his allies and associates. He is set to face trial with his longtime friend and confidant, Michael McClain.

McClain was separately convicted last year with three others for a lengthy conspiracy to bribe Madigan to benefit ComEd.

Attorneys for Madigan and McClain contend the Snyder case could answer key questions revolving around a crucial bribery statute dealing with programs receiving federal funds. Among them is whether that statute also criminalizes so-called gratuities or rewards without a quid pro quo.

Another question is whether a quid pro quo is required to prove bribery under the statute. Federal prosecutors in Chicago insist it is not required.

“A stay, or at the very least a continuance of the trial date, will remove the risk that the court and the parties will waste time and resources working in a murky landscape” around the law “that is about to be clarified by the Supreme Court,” the defense attorneys wrote.

They even noted that the Supreme Court’s Snyder decision could come down “right at the end” of Madigan’s trial, “rendering any result (and the effort that went into it) moot.”

McClain and his three co-defendants in last year’s separate case have also tried to put that case on hold. Convicted with McClain in that case were ex-ComEd CEO Anne Pramaggiore, former ComEd lobbyist John Hooker, and onetime City Club President Jay Doherty.

U.S. District Judge Manish Shah handled that request as an emergency judge. He declined to enter a stay but said sentencing hearings could not go forward as planned, apparently for scheduling reasons.

U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber, who presides over the case, has set a hearing for Thursday.

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