I-Team

Intelligence Report: Courtroom conflict for leading U.S. attorney candidate Virginia Kendall

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

In this Intelligence Report: We've learned of a unique courtroom conflict that faced federal judge Virginia Kendall, who is considered front-runner for United States attorney in Chicago.

The conflict came up in a case that Judge Kendall was hearing at the time she applied for the federal prosecutor's job.

Judge Kendall asked that her 39 criminal cases be transferred to other judges to avoid any appearance of a conflict. The judge did this after she was asked to interview for the U.S. attorney's position, meaning she was a finalist for the job.

The I-Team has learned that one of Judge Kendall's cases posed a unique conflict. It was a civil rights case involving a deputy federal marshal that was in the early stages in Judge Kendall's courtroom. More than two weeks after applying for the U.S. attorney's position, Judge Kendall revealed her possible career move to attorneys in the case.

According to a newly filed court transcript, in a sidebar conversation away from the public, Judge Kendall said, "In an abundance of caution to the defendant...I wanted to reveal this-- I applied for the U.S. attorney's position."

The judge said there is no conflict, adding, "I would be happy to recuse or remove myself from the case."

Then came the prosecutor's revelation: "I believe one of the witnesses, Chief (John) O'Malley of the U.S. Marshals Service, that his wife may be on the selection committee."

Judge Kendall: "That's true. You can think about that and see if there's any implication there...I do also request of all of you to keep this confidential."

That witness, Deputy U.S. Marshal John O'Malley, is indeed married to Christina Egan, a former prosecutor, now in private practice, who is on the committee of six that will make a recommendation to Illinois senators to fill the U.S. attorney's position.

In a motion filed Monday, the defendant in the conflicted civil rights case, Stephen Linder, said he "opposed reassignment of the case" to another judge and promised, "if convicted, he would not appeal on issue of Judge Kendall's U.S. attorney application."

As of now Judge Kendall is hearing only civil cases and there has been no decision whether to return this one case back to her.

Judge Kendall and the other two finalists names will be provided to senators Durbin and kirk. They will make a final decision. That nominee is then sent to President Barack Obama for approval.

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