U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall said two other lawyers in the case also aren’t feeling well. As a result, she said she’d have to put the trial on hold until Nov. 16.
The judge and the lawyers still haven’t finished jury selection in the highly anticipated case. Thirty-eight potential jurors have survived questioning. Nine more must make it through the process without being struck for cause to round out the panel after lawyers exercise peremptory strikes.
Kendall intended to push lawyers to finish jury selection by lunchtime Thursday. Now the trial is on hold entirely. The lawyers who came to court Thursday were all wearing face masks. So was Burke.
Burke’s trial is expected to last six weeks. The slow jury selection and COVID delay threaten to push the trial deep into the holiday season. Also on trial with Burke are his political aide, Peter Andrews, and developer Charles Cui.
Burke is accused of using his seat on the City Council to steer business to his private law firm amid schemes that involved Chicago’s Old Post Office, a Burger King at 41st and Pulaski, and a Binny’s Beverage Depot on the Northwest Side. He is also accused of threatening to block an admission fee increase at the Field Museum because it didn’t respond when he recommended his goddaguther for an internship.