Michael Madigan’s inner circle defense team asked for a surprise move in federal court on Wednesday.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that they wish to keep their September 12th trial date and that they would prefer a bench trial.
In federal court, it is rare to have a bench trial rather than a jury trial. According to the Sun-Times, U.S. District Judge Harry Leinenweber was told by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amarjeet Bhachuit that Wednesday was the first time the federal prosecution had heard of the defendants’ preference for a bench trial.
Leinenweber set an April 26th status for the case. Both parties have to agree to the stipulation. According to the Sun-Times, the bench trial could signal that there is a disagreement over interpretation of a law or a charge in the case rather than on the facts of the case.
Quincy Lobbyist Michael McClain’s defense attorney Patrick Cotter told the court that a number of motions would be filed if a bench trial would not be allowed to proceed. The case, separate from Madigan’s and McClain’s federal rackateering case, also involves former Commonwealth-Edison CEO Anne Pramaggiore, ex top ComEd lobbyist John Hooker, and former City Club President Jay Doherty.
The four were indicted in November 2020 and accuse the group of arranging for Madigan associates and allies to get jobs, contracts, and money in order to influence Madigan as key energy legislation worked its way through the General Assembly.
The inner circle’s September trial is largely considered to be a preview of the forthcoming Madigan trial.