Criminal Justice

Ex-Special Prosecutor to Pay $157K to Settle Suit Claiming Hidden Evidence, Perjured Testimony

A former special prosecutor in Illinois who filed charges against the state’s attorney in McHenry County has agreed to pay $157,500 to settle a wrongful prosecution suit.

Henry “Skip” Tonigan III agreed to the deal without admitting wrongdoing, report the Chicago Tribune and the Northwest Herald. The suit by State’s Attorney Louis Bianchi claimed Tonigan and former special prosecutor Thomas McQueen hid evidence and presented perjured testimony as part of a conspiracy initiated by political enemies.

Tonigan and McQueen had filed two sets of charges against Bianchi; the first alleged Bianchi used county employees for political fund-raising, and the second alleged he gave breaks to friends in criminal cases. A judge issued directed verdicts of acquittal for Bianchi in both cases, citing a lack of evidence. Other acquitted defendants in Bianchi’s office had also joined in the suit.

Tonigan is a former chief judge in two counties who now works as a mediator. The suit continues against McQueen and a computer forensics firm, Quest Consultants Ltd. McQueen and Quest have previously said they followed the evidence where it took them.

The Tribune calls the settlement “an extremely unusual move.” The story quotes Susana Ortiz, an attorney at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, who said prosecutors typically have absolute immunity unless they step outside their role as prosecutors and act as investigators. At that point, they have qualified immunity, she said.

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