The Illinois Supreme Court will not step in and reinstate LaSalle County State’s Attorney Karen Donnelly as the prosecutor in the official misconduct case against her predecessor, Brian Towne. A high court decision this week declines to hear her appeal of a lower court judge’s ruling that another prosecutor replace her.
Nearly a year-and-a-half ago, Kankakee County Judge Clark Erickson, specially brought into the LaSalle County case to avoid conflicts with the local judges, ruled that Donnelly appeared too eager to prosecute Towne. He appointed Monmouth attorney Gregory McClintock to handle the state’s case in February last year. The case has been stalled at the county level because of appeals.
The Third District Appellate Court in Ottawa listened to Donnelly’s appeal that Erickson shouldn’t have replaced her. But the appellate judges determined that they have no jurisdiction to reverse Erickson’s decision. They said only the Illinois Supreme Court could review it. And now the justices there are declining to do that.
The case may resume at the county level as soon as the judge receives the higher court’s official notice that it’s done with the matter. The accusations against Towne include requiring State’s Attorney’s Office employees to do his campaign work on county time, accepting money for outside employment, and using county funds for personal benefit. Towne said he couldn’t comment on the case’s merits, but he called it a vindictive abuse of power.