The Illinois Supreme Court has rejected a lower court’s ruling that the Attorney General is obligated to pay for the legal defense of a former state’s attorney who was successfully sued for prosecutorial misconduct.
The Illinois Times reports that Attorney General Lisa Madigan declined to represent Edgar County state’s attorney Michael McFatridge when he was sued by two men who were wrongfully convicted of murder. McFatridge was accused of manufacturing evidence, manipulating witnesses and covering up Brady material in the civil suits.
Randy Steidl and Herb Whitlock spent a combined number of 38 years in prison for convictions that were later vacated by courts who found that new evidence cast doubt on their guilt. Both men separately sued McFatridge, who settled with Whitlock for an undisclosed amount and with Steidl for $3.5 million.
AG Madigan opted out of defending McFatridge under a state law that allows the AG to decline to represent employees who commit “intentional, willful or wanton misconduct.”
Madigan suggested McFatridge engaged in “malicious misconduct” when commenting on the Court’s decision. As The Illinois Times article notes, the Supreme Court’s affirmation of Madigan’s decision makes the Court the first to affirm McFatridge’s misconduct since the civil suits against him were settled prior to trial.
The Center on Wrongful Convictions, who represents Steidl, has written an open letter to Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois, asking why Quinn continues to overlook Steidl’s 11 year old petition for an innocence pardon.