Madigan trial delayed pending Supreme Court ruling in bribery case

Trial of longtime Illinois speaker of the house moved to October

Former Illinois Speaker Michael Madigan’s Trial Pushed to October
Michael Madigan (Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal with Getty)

A federal judge ruled on Wednesday that Michael Madigan’s racketeering trial will be postponed until October. 

The former Illinois House Speaker’s trial date was changed because the U.S. District Court is awaiting a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court in another bribery case in the Chicago Metro. The outcome of that case could change what the prosecutors must prove in the case against Madigan, the Chicago Tribune reported.  U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey made the ruling during Madigan’s first court appearance since his indictment. Madigan appeared in person, and his co-defendant, Michael McClain, appeared by video conference.

“I don’t do this lightly,” Blakey said. “But it’s better to do it right than to do it twice.”

Madigan was the leader of the Illinois Democratic Party and held the role of house speaker for 36 years, a nationwide record. 

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The trial was supposed to begin in April, and the new date is Oct. 8. It could last up to three months. Central to the delay was the Supreme Court’s decision to take up the case of a former mayor of Portage, Indiana, James Snyder, who was convicted of taking bribes from a trucking company. If that case is overturned, it could change how courts interpret what constitutes bribery of a public official. 

Madigan was indicted in March 2022 on federal racketeering charges. The 22-count indictment alleged that Madigan had participated in bribery schemes from 2011 to 2019.  

Much of the indictment centers around an alleged bribery scheme by Commonwealth Edison. It alleges that the utility company paid thousands of dollars to lobbyists close to Madigan to gain his support on matters in the state legislature. 

The Supreme Court case could have reverberations for other public corruption cases in Chicago, where defense attorneys have complained that prosecutors overreach in applying federal bribery statutes.

—Miranda Davis 

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