A special legislative panel is scheduled to hold its final disciplinary hearing against indicted State Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago, next Thursday, but Smith's attorneys want that timeline pushed back.
Smith was arrested in March on charges that he accepted a $7,000 bribe in exchange for helping a day care center get a state grant.
Although he's pleaded not guilty in federal court, there's no requirement that the General Assembly wait for a final verdict. The Illinois House is free to mete out punishment -- including taking away his seat.
But first, a bipartisan committee of legislators will act like a "jury." The panel met for the first time late last month and has scheduled July 19 as its final hearing date.
In a letter to the committee, Smith's attorney, Victor Henderson, says that's too soon. He says he can't provide effective counsel that quickly andwantsat leasta 30-day extension“in order to obtain other, unidentified, exculpatory evidence for the hearing.”
The prosecutor for the House proceedings, Rep. Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, acknowledged the “abbreviated timeframe.”
“I believe that there’s more than enough time to make whatever case they have,” he added. “Representative Smith was arrested in March. We are now in July."
Durkin says the House moved at an equally brisk pace a few years ago, when it went about removing former Gov. Rod Blagojevich from office after his arrest.
Durkin says Smith doesn't have the same due process rights in the House as he will in court.
Representatives have no legal standard they must meet when deciding if Smith deserves to be punished or expelled.
Henderson also has submitted a request to the office of Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, to subpoena the federal government’s unnamed mole, identified as “CS-1,” who allegedly passed the $7,000 cash bribe to Smith.
Henderson wants to question FBI Special Agent Bryan Butler, who was the arresting officer in the case.