OTTAWA — Former La Salle County state’s attorney Brian Towne might finally get trial dates now that Karen Donnelly lost an appeal seeking to be reinstated as his prosecutor.

Towne, 51, of La Salle is charged with 17 felonies, most alleging misuse of public funds. Current state’s attorney Donnelly filed charges against him in 2017 but later was removed from the case in favor of a special prosecutor.

Donnelly appealed her removal, arguing Towne’s judge abused his discretion and that he should have made a straight-up reading of a recent (2016) Illinois law requiring judges to show an “actual conflict,” rather than allowing for removal over the mere appearance of a conflict.

Tuesday, however, the 3rd District Appellate Court dismissed Donnelly’s appeal for lack of jurisdiction. A defendant has the right to appeal the issue of a prosecutor’s removal, the court ruled, “(but) there is no indication that permission to appeal this issue is similarly available to the state.”

George Mueller, assistant La Salle County state’s attorney, said he read Tuesday’s ruling and planned to recommend Donnelly appeal the decision to the Illinois Supreme Court.

“We’re going to think long and hard about filing a petition for leave to appeal,” Mueller said.

The upshot is Towne, who in December invoked his right to a speedy trial, is now likely to get trial dates and head back to La Salle County to fight charges alleging he misused proceeds from the drug fund.

As of Tuesday, no new dates were scheduled in the criminal case.

Tom Collins can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or Follow him on Twitter @NT_Court.


Tom Collins is the NewsTribune Senior Reporter. He can be reached at (815) 220-6930 or
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