Attorney For Indicted State Rep: House Panel Rushing To Judgment
CHICAGO (CBS) – The attorney for indicted State Rep. Derrick Smith (D-Chicago) has launched a mannered, but pointed attack against the House committee considering whether to discipline Smith over bribery allegations.
Smith was arrested in March after allegedly accepting a $7,000 cash bribe for helping a phony daycare center owner get a state grant.
Smith has pleaded not guilty, but a House panel has begun hearings into whether he should face disciplinary action, including possible expulsion from the House, after a separate committee concluded there’s enough evidence to justify punishment.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports
WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody reports Smith’s attorney, Victor Henderson, said on Wednesday there’s information that could help Smith, which is under federal court seal pending trial, and the House Select Committee on Discipline should hear it before proceeding.
“How would we feel if our teachers gave us grades, ‘You get a C, you get a D, you get an A, you get a B,’ and we go, ‘Wait a minute, you haven’t even looked at my paper,’” Henderson said. “So here we have people who are ready, apparently, to make a decision, without having access to the information. And that’s sad for all of us, if that’s we are allowing ourselves to become as citizens, if we are not willing to get the information, and let the process be fair.”
Henderson called the federal informant who recorded Smith’s conversations a “con man.” Henderson has said prosecutors failed to disclose that informant’s full criminal history before getting a judge’s permission to record Smith’s conversations.
He said the House committee is rushing to judgment without all the facts.
“I think the process here appears to be possibly going on the wrong track, because it’s not being fair, and it’s not being deliberate,” Henderson said.
House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), who is chairing the committee, opened their first meeting Wednesday with words of guidance.
“We must work hard to reach a conclusion that is correct, and is also just,” she said. “The final decision lies with the full House of Representatives. The process needs to be fair to both parties, and it needs to be orderly.”
Henderson said the proceedings should be delayed, pending the release of more information on the case that is currently under seal. He said Smith could appear before the panel later, when appropriate.
The committee will set a hearing schedule by week’s end.