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UNITED STATES v. KEANE

May 17, 1974

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THOMAS E. KEANE, DEFENDANT.



  MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON DEFENDANT'S MOTIONS

This matter is now before the Executive Committee pursuant to motions by defendant Thomas E. Keane that:

  1. this cause be ordered returned to the Executive
     Committee of this Court for assignment in
     accordance with Rule 10 of the Local Rules of this
     Court;
  2. that the Honorable Bernard M. Decker be recused
     from further participation in this cause or any
     part thereof;

3. that all proceedings be stayed;

  4. that the Court promptly set for hearing the
     question of disciplinary sanctions against
     defendant's attorneys; and
  5. that the U.S. Attorney be made subject to such
     disciplinary sanctions.

For the reasons set forth below, we are of the opinion that defendant's first motion should be denied and that the remaining motions should be referred to the presiding trial judge, the Honorable Bernard M. Decker, for ruling.

On May 2, 1974, defendant was indicted for violations of 18 U.S.C. § 371 and § 1341. Immediately after the return of the indictment, Chief Judge Edwin A. Robson was notified by the United States Attorney, in open court, that in his opinion 74 CR 359 would be protracted, difficult and widely publicized. Upon examination of the 21-count indictment, the Chief Judge identified the case as one that would be protracted, difficult and widely publicized and thus subject to the provisions of this Court's General Order dated May 17, 1972. He then referred the matter to the Executive Committee for assignment. The Committee concurred in Chief Judge Robson's finding and ordered the case assigned to Judge Decker.*fn1 See Minute Order dated May 2, 1974. It is this procedure defendant now challenges.

In general, Local Rule 10 provides for the random assignment of judges in civil and criminal cases. However, this Court's General Order dated May 17, 1972 establishes exceptional procedures for cases which the Chief Judge has identified as being protracted, difficult or widely publicized. That order states:

    "By the unanimous direction of The Executive
  Committee of the United States District Court for The
  Northern District of Illinois, in executive session
  on March 10, 1972, the following procedure was
  adopted to implement the Resolution of the Judicial
  Conference of the United States, adopted October 29,
  1971, calling for a program for the prompt
  disposition of protracted, difficult or widely
  publicized cases:
    (1) The Chief Judge shall have the sole
  responsibility to identify cases to be removed from
  regular assignment and to give appropriate
  instructions to the Clerk for this purpose.
    (2) The Executive Committee shall act as the
  assignment committee, and no assignment of any case
  shall be made except on written order joined in by at
  least three members of the Executive Committee. The
  case may be assigned either to another judge of the
  court, or, where there are unusual circumstances, as
  determined by the Executive Committee, a request may
  be made to the Chief Judge of the Circuit to assign
  the particular case

  either to another judge in the circuit or to a
  judge outside the circuit.
    (3) Under ordinary circumstances, the Chief Judge
  will call a meeting of the Executive Committee in his
  chambers, where its business will be conducted;
  however, in exceptional cases, the Chief Judge, in
  his discretion, may dispense with a formal meeting
  and communicate orally with the members of the
  ...

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