CHICAGO (CBS) — U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow said Wednesday that she won’t step down from the case of a former Chicago police lieutenant convicted of lying about the torture of suspects.
Jon Burge’s attorneys had asked Lefkow to recuse herself before Burge is sentenced next week, due to her ties to the lead prosecutor.
Burge was convicted last June of perjury and obstruction of justice.
Defense lawyers said they should have been notified before Burge’s trial that Assistant U.S. Atty. David Weisman was also the prosecutor in a 2004 murder-for-hire case targeting Lefkow.
But Lefkow said his petition had no merit and also that it came too late — a week before sentencing. She also said she only gave brief testimony as a witness in that case and had nothing to do with the decision to prosecute the case.
She testified at the 2004 trial of white supremacist Matthew Hale, who was convicted of ordering a hit on Lefkow. Lefkow’s husband and mother were killed by a man who had been involved in a medial malpractice case that Lefkow had dismissed. The murders were not tied to Hale.
Burge’s lawyers said they should have been told that Weisman, the lead prosecutor in the Burge case, also headed the prosecution team in the Hale case. But one of Burge’s three attorneys said he did know Weisman was the prosecutor.
The discussion in court put Lefkow in the position of having to explain her relationship, or lack thereof, with that prosecutor.
“I hate to say…I didn’t request that Mr. 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
(TM and © Copyright 2010 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press and the Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.)