OTTAWA — Brian Towne says his speedy-trial rights were violated and he wants his 17 felonies all thrown out.
The former La Salle County state’s attorney is charged primarily with misuse of funds. He could face 3-7 years in prison if convicted.
Thursday, however, one of Towne’s lawyers filed a pair of motions to dismiss all charges on the grounds the state had a 160-day time limit and missed it.
Defense attorney Pat Herrmann wrote “658 days have elapsed since (Towne) was first charged on Sept. 5, 2017, and as of the filing of this motion to dismiss (Towne) has not even been arraigned on the charges.”
Herrmann noted that while Towne is perhaps responsible for a 145-day delay while seeking a special prosecutor, which ultimately was granted, more than 530 days “will be the result of the state’s attorney (Karen Donnelly) pursuing an interlocutory appeal which she had no authority to pursue.”
Special prosecutor Greg McClintock said he had seen the Thursday motions but did not anticipate filing a response until later in the month.
Donnelly no longer is a party to the case.
As of Thursday, there was no hearing date scheduled for visiting Judge Clark Erickson to decide whether the state exceeded the time limit, which appears to have run out the weekend of May 18-19.
Erickson may have to wait until the end of the month or July before scheduling a hearing, as the parties all are waiting for an order, or mandate, from the Illinois Supreme Court. Last month, the state’s top court rejected Donnelly’s latest (and apparently final) attempt to be reinstated as Towne’s prosecutor.
That ruling cleared the way for McClintock to bring Towne to trial this summer; but now Erickson will first have to decide whether the clock has run out.
A suspect is guaranteed the right to trial within 120 days — 160 days if, like Towne, they are out of custody — but there are provisions where a judge can “toll” a case, or stop the clock. Any time a defendant’s fitness or sanity is called into question, for example, the clock stops and doesn’t resume ticking until mental evaluations are completed and ruled upon.