A look at the events in the investigation of Rock Island County State's Attorney Jeff Terronez.
Created by qconline on Mar 15, 2011
Last updated: 03/15/11 at 12:10 PM
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With two-term Rock Island County State's Attorney Jeff Terronez under investigation by the Illinois State Police, the county Republican Party is paying particular attention to that position as it plans for a strong effort in the 2012 general election. "We're not only recruiting a candidate for state's attorney, we have other slots to fill for 2012. But we're definitely looking at that office," Rock Island County GOP Chairman Susie Carpentier said Thursday. If the Republicans were to field a state's attorney candidate it would be the first time in 50 years or more. Ms. Carpentier said Mr. Terronez's continuing silence on the investigation is troubling. He refused to comment on the investigation again Thursday, just as he has since word of it first surfaced last October.
The Quad City Times filed a lawsuit against the Illinois State Police, requesting that the agency be forced to turn over records related to an investigation of Rock Island County State's Attorney Jeff Terronez. The Times is one of several Quad-Cities media outlets, including The Dispatch and The Rock Island Argus, using various legal channels in an attempt to get more information about an investigation first reported last October. The lawsuit, filed in Sangamon CountyCircuit Court in Springfield, contends the state police, in violation of the Freedom of Information Act, failed to explain specifically how and why release of the records in question would interfere in the investigation. The suit further contends that other exemptions to the FOI Act claimed by the state police do not apply. The suit asks that the court order the state police to turn over the records and pay reasonable attorney fees.
A judge declined to appoint a special prosecutor to replace the Rock Island County state's attorney's office in the case of a man accused of shooting at Rock Island police last year. Attorney Herb Schultz requested the special prosecutor in a motion filed Feb. 25 on behalf of his client, Casey Hunter, 30, of Rock Island, who is accused of aggravated discharge of a firearm at a police officer, attempted murder and being a felon in possession of a firearm. He is accused of shooting at Rock Island police officer Tim Muehler after a traffic stop on May 3, 2010. Officer Muehler fired back, striking Mr. Hunter twice, police said. In his motion, Mr. Schultz said the office of Rock Island County State's Attorney Jeff Terronez should not prosecute the case because the case is being investigated by the Rock Island County Integrity Task Force. The Task Force is a multi-agency group that investigates officer-involved shootings and is under the control of the Illinois State Police. Mr. Schultz said in the motion that there is a conflict because Mr. Terronez is also under investigation by the Illinois State Police. The motion did not specify more.
An Illinois State Police spokesman confirmed there is an ongoing investigation involving Rock Island County State's Attorney Jeff Terronez. Master Sgt. Isaiah Vega, deputy chief public information officer, said, "Generally speaking, it is the policy (of the ISP) not to comment on or confirm investigations." But, he said, the ISP has received several Freedom of Information Act requests for any information regarding such an investigation and denied the requests. "The reason for the denial is based on the fact there is an ongoing investigation," Master Sgt. Vega said. He declined to provide any details into the investigation, its subject or when it might be concluded.
Terronez continues in office.
The Illinois Attorney General's office has "talked" with Illinois State Police officials about Rock Island County State's Attorney Jeff Terronez, but has not received a request to prosecute, a spokesman said. "We are aware of the issue and we've talked with the state police," Robyn Ziegler, press secretary for Attorney General Lisa Madigan, said. Ms. Ziegler would not say what the office and Illinois State Police talked about or whether the state police were investigating Mr. Terronez.
A spokesman for Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Kilbride said Mr. Kilbride cut Mr. Terronez out of a television ad urging the justice's retention. The decision was made because of the reports of a state police investigation of the prosecutor.