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May 19, 2024

Fourth Circuit Chief Judge McHaney – Overstepping Appointment Authority?

By John Kraft & Kirk Allen

On January 12, 2017

Fourth Circuit Court (ECWd) –

“Judge Michael McHaney, Chief Judge of the Fourth Circuit, hereby make the following appointments pursuant to 10 ILCS 5/10-9……”

The key in that quote is his “claim” that the appointments he made were in pursuant to Illinois State Statue 10 ILCS 5/110-9.

“Any vacancies on an electoral board not otherwise filled pursuant to this Section shall be filled by public members appointed by the Chief Judge of the Circuit Court for the county wherein the electoral board hearing is being held upon notification to the Chief Judge of such vacancies. The Chief Judge shall be so notified by a member of the electoral board or the officer or board with whom the objector’s petition was filed. In the event that none of the individuals designated by this Section to serve on the electoral board are eligible, the chairman of an electoral board shall be designated by the Chief Judge.”

The statute gives the Chief Judge specific powers to appoint members and designate a Chairman for the Electoral Board…STOP.

Reading his order below, not only has he appointed board members and designated the Chairman, he went beyond his powers and appointed an attorney to the board and issued a mandate for the Shelbyville Township to pay the bill, of which they have no statutory power to do as the Electoral Board is a separate public body created by the Election code.  We find no provision in the Township code that authorizes Township funds to be expelled to another public body outside of an intergovernmental agreement, which there is none in this case.

Where does the public turn when the Chief Judge in Circuit Court can’t follow the law?

We did reach out to the Chief Judge’s Office for comment and were told that he would not comment on this subject, referring us to the Attorney he appointed as the legal counsel to the Shelbyville Township Electoral Board.  A discussion with the attorney on the matter only confirmed that the attorney was asked by the Judge to be the counsel for the Electoral Board and since the Attorney had great respect for the Chief Judge he was not going to question his actions.

The Township Electoral Board should have never made the “suggestion” that an attorney be appointed, and the Judge should have never appointed him. Although we do not agree with the appointment process, we are pleased to see the “suggested” attorney/law firm was not the one the Judge turned to. By making the suggestion in the letter asking for a specific law firm, which we believe was overstepping their authority, the appearance was one of attempting to influence the new electoral board thru use of the Township Attorney’s co-worker as the new legal counsel.  It should be noted that this Electoral Board claimed to have asked the Township attorney to be present yet we have attended every meeting of this Board and no such discussion took place.  More importantly, which we will cover in more detail in another article is the fact the attorney that was present appeared to be acting as counsel for the Electoral Board, which is a far cry from being asked to be present.

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