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Opening statements could begin Tuesday in trial of Michael Madigan’s ex-chief of staff

Opening statements could begin Tuesday in the perjury trial of a onetime top aide to former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan after lawyers complete the task of selecting a jury.

Tim Mapes served for two decades as chief of staff to the powerful Southwest Side Democrat. Now Mapes is accused of lying to a federal grand jury. He is also charged with attempted obstruction of justice for an alleged bid to block the feds’ aggressive pursuit of Madigan and another key Springfield insider, Michael McClain.

Mapes has pleaded not guilty. His lawyers have argued the questions posed to him in the grand jury were vague, and that some of his responses — like “I don’t recall” — were “literally true.” They’ve also suggested they’ll tell jurors that Mapes was caught off guard by the questions asked by prosecutors.

But first, lawyers must conclude the task of empaneling a jury to hear the case at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse. U.S. District Judge John Kness spent Monday questioning nearly 30 potential jurors about their backgrounds, their hobbies, their family members and whether they thought they could be fair.

One potential juror told the judge he liked to travel, recently visiting the Panama Canal as well as New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Another said he had been friends since middle school with U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, who presides in Washington, D.C. Others shared concerns about child care, or whether serving on the jury would cause trouble at work.

Another potential juror also apparently wrote on a court questionnaire about Madigan, expressing hope that “he and all his friends go to jail.” She was soon dismissed from the panel — even though she told Kness she could keep an open mind.

That woman was among nine dismissed from the potential juror pool Monday. Jury selection is expected to continue when court resumes Tuesday.

Mapes’ trial could last as long as three weeks. Once it’s underway, jurors are expected to hear dozens of recordings that prosecutors say undermine testimony Mapes gave to the grand jury March 31, 2021. Mapes denied during his testimony that he was aware of work being done by McClain for Madigan.

The recordings set to be played by prosecutors were largely made in 2018, when the #MeToo movement rocked the state Capitol and forced certain power players, including Mapes, out of office. 

McClain was convicted along with three others earlier this year for conspiring to bribe Madigan to benefit ComEd. 

In a second case, McClain and Madigan face racketeering conspiracy charges. That case is set to go to trial in April.

https://chicago.suntimes.com/2023/8/8/23823939/opening-statements-near-in-trial-of-michael-madigans-ex-chief-of-staff Opening statements could begin Tuesday in trial of Michael Madigan’s ex-chief of staff

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