A respected news source revealed this week that since taking her seat on Illinois’ highest court in 2006, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, wife of federally-indicted Chicago Alderman Ed Burke, has heard and ruled on at least 10 cases involving parties that were clients of her husband’s law firm. In response to the news report, on Wednesday State Representative Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville) filed a complaint with the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board (JIB) and asked for an immediate investigation into Justice Burke’s refusal to recuse herself from cases where her family received a financial benefit from parties before her.
Click here to read the letter.
“Ethics laws exist for a reason, and every elected official, from library board trustee all the way up to Justices of the Supreme Court, have a responsibility to avoid any appearance of impropriety,” said Wehrli. “In order to maintain transparency and preserve ethical standards, officials must step away, not only when a clear conflict of interest exists, but also when the appearance of a conflict exists. Justice Burke’s decisions against recusal in these ten cases casts a cloud of doubt over every one of those rulings.”
In Wehrli’s letter, he asked the seven voting members of the JIB to “open an investigation into allegations of Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke’s conflicts of interest regarding cases involving clients of her husband, Alderman Ed Burke, and his law firm, Klafter & Burke. Wehrli went on to say, “This inquiry is essential to maintain public trust in the independent judicial branch of government and the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois.”
When complaints are filed with the JIB against a sitting judge, an internal analysis is conducted and the results are forwarded to the board members. Board members may then choose to close the case because the allegations do not constitute misconduct, investigate the complaint, or require the judge named in the complaint to appear before the board to answer questions pertaining to the issue. “Public corruption impacts every sector of State government, and we must preserve the integrity of the decisions handed down by our state’s highest court,” added Wehrli. “Justice Burke’s participation in these cases certainly raises valid concerns, and the JIB was created specifically to handle these types of issues. The people of Illinois deserve to know the conduct of those charged with interpreting our laws are first and foremost following those laws themselves.”