Federal Judge Won't Recuse Herself from Burge Case

Lawyers say they weren't aware of previous connection between judge, prosecutor

Wednesday, Jan 12, 2011  |  Updated 4:45 PM CDT
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Federal Judge Won't Recuse Herself from Burge Case

The judge in the case of former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge refused to step aside Wednesday.

Burge’s lawyers had asked U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow to recuse herself from sentencing him after his conviction last June for perjury and obstruction of justice.

They said they should've been notified before the trial about a prior connection between the lead prosecutor in the case and Lefkow.  The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Weisman, also prosecuted a 2004 case in which Lefkow was the victim of a failed murder-for-hire plot.

"I hate to say...I didn’t request that Mr. [Matthew] Hale be prosecuted. I didn’t know the investigation was going on until the U.S. attorney met with me sometime much later,” Lefkow said.

At one point, defense lawyer Rick Beuke brought up that Weisman also was involved in the investigation of the 2005 murders of Lefkow’s husband and mother.

Lefkow looked down as he spoke.

Later, she talked about her involvement in the Hale trial but did not raise the murder investigation.

“I did my best to be impartial,” Lefkow said of the Hale trial.

She said she agreed to meet with both the prosecution and the defense before she briefly testified in Hale’s trial.

Burge is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 20. His lawyers say he should face no more than 21 months in prison. Prosecutors say he could face up to 30 years.

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