JOLIET, IL — Next year, the biggest local election could be Will County State’s Attorney. Longtime officeholder James Glasgow is finishing his sixth four-year term of office and appears vulnerable to losing in 2020. After winning two terms in the 1990s, Glasgow lost in 2000 only to come back as state’s attorney in 2004. He has remained in power ever since.
These days, there’s a lot of talk around the Will County Courthouse about lawyers who could beat Glasgow next year.
Not helping Glasgow’s re-election prospects, The Joliet Herald-News has published back to back news articles during the past month accusing Glasgow of engaging in nepotism during his current term of office.
First, Glasgow hired his stepson Cody Columbus as a special investigator in the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office after Glasgow’s stepson left the Joliet Police Department during his probationary hiring period. The March story was headlined, “Glasgow Gave Stepson Job.”
Then, last week, The Herald-News blasted Glasgow again.
That article revealed Jim Glasgow had hired his stepson’s girlfriend’s mother to work as a legal secretary. April’s follow-up was headlined, “Nepotism? Glasgow: ‘Absolutely Not.'”
While Glasgow may not be driving on a flat tire, at least yet, there’s definitely air seeping out of his tires as he fights to retain his power base and political prestige in Will County.
Meanwhile, in case you haven’t noticed, there’s still a large number of high-profile Will County unsolved murder cases that haven’t led to criminal prosecutions under Glasgow’s watch.
Nobody has been prosecuted for the death of 16-month-old Sema’j Crosby. Her lifeless body was put underneath a couch at her home in Joliet Township, two years ago this month.
Nobody has been prosecuted for the April 2007 disappearance of 37-year-old Plainfield resident Lisa Stebic.
Nobody has been prosecuted for the 1990 disappearance of Robin Abrams, the former Will County Sheriff’s deputy. Her sister Jody Walsh told me last year that Jim Glasgow told the family numerous times over the years that he would bring justice to the Abrams family.
Nobody has been prosecuted for the 1981 disappearance of little 6-year-old Sarah Avon, who vanished without a trace after playing near her family’s Joliet home on Oscar Avenue.
Nobody has been prosecuted for the February 2008 Lane Bryant murders of five women, including Joliet’s Rhoda McFarland, inside the Tinley Park retail store.
In March 2018, Stacy Peterson’s sister Cassandra Cales drew widespread national media attention when she claimed Glasgow was about to charge Drew Peterson with her sister’s death.
But she was wrong.
No murder charges were filed. Stacy Peterson still remains missing. Nobody has seen her alive since October 2007.
According to the country’s best website that tracks no-body murder prosecutions, there have been 523 no-body murder trials as of January 2019 and about a dozen were in Illinois.
But none were in Will County.
And then there’s the 2018 death of 23-year-old WESCOM 911 dispatcher Samantha Harer, who died of a gunshot to the head while her estranged boyfriend, Crest Hill Police Officer Felipe “Phil” Flores, claimed he was on the other side of her locked bedroom door, but unable to stop her from killing herself.
Glasgow backs the investigation conducted by the Channahon Police Department. Meanwhile, a federal judge in Chicago has reinstated the Harer family’s lawsuit against Flores, Channahon and Crest Hill.
Assuming Glasgow runs again, he may be in for a bruising Democratic primary challenge next spring. Then, if he prevails, he could face a runoff against a Republican in the November 2020 general election.
With Glasgow looking vulnerable heading into next year’s races, I’ve put together a list of possible candidates who may run, either as a Democrat or a Republican.
The following names were mentioned to me by insiders at the Will County Courthouse, which is where I’m at several days a week.
None of the possible candidates I have mentioned in this column have told me they are intending to run for Will County State’s Attorney. Rather, their names have been mentioned as lawyers who may have a decent chance at defeating Glasgow, in 2020.
State Representative 85th District. From Lockport. According to his political bio, Connor spent nearly two decades as a key criminal prosecutor in the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office. Connor is credited with running the special grand jury in the Drew Peterson case and securing the indictment that led to the Bolingbrook Police sergeant’s eventual murder conviction.
FRANK CSERVENYAK Jr.
Founding partner of Rathbun, Cservenyak & Kozol, Will County’s largest law firm. His firm notes that Cservenyak is one of the Chicago area’s best personal injury attorneys, specializing in wrongful death cases, product liability and auto accidents. He focuses on civil litigation, criminal and commercial litigation, personal injury and employment law.
Attorney at Castle Law in Joliet. Capparelli is a retired U.S. Army colonel and was assistant attorney general, bureau chief, for the state of Illinois, from 2005 through 2007. He was also an assistant state’s attorney for Will County from 2002 to 2005, where he focused on felony cases, according to his bio. During his time in the Attorney General’s Office, Capparelli indicates he expedited felony charges against two people who had manufactured false military orders and had participated in military parades honoring their military service. “Jim is a skilled leader and administrator with strong training, administration and negotiations expertise,” his online bio proclaims.
Hanson currently works in Glasgow’s office, so it’s not known whether she would seek the position of State’s Attorney if Glasgow chooses to run for another four-year term. If Glasgow continues to get pummeled in the press as he has recently, the long-time state’s attorney may decide to hang it up and call it a career. If that occurs, Donna Hanson may be a possible replacement. She is considered a rising star in the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office’s criminal division.
An African-American lawyer, Eric Mitchell works in Joliet at Mitchell Legal Solutions. The downtown Joliet law firm handles clients across the Joliet area for criminal defense, bankruptcy and family law matters. Mitchell is highly regarded as a lawyer and he is active in the community. He is a founding member of the law firm.
Worked as a Joliet Police officer for 10 years before going to John Marshall Law School. After 20 months in Iraq, O’Dekirk returned to Joliet where he is managing partner at O’Dekirk, Allred & Associates, a downtown Joliet law firm focused on criminal defense, DUIs, drug offenses, criminal record expungement and juvenile cases. O’Dekirk was elected to the Joliet City Council in 2011. In 2015, he ran against incumbent Mayor Tom Giarrante and defeated him by a wide margin. Last week, O’Dekirk ran unopposed for a second term as Joliet’s mayor, the first time in decades that a Joliet’s mayor race was uncontested.
A former assistant Will County State’s Attorney who is now a high-ranking Naval officer. This Navy website from 2018 lists Speakman as being part of the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. In 2017, she was one of 49 Will County attorneys who applied to fill the Will County Associate Judge vacancy created by the January 2018 retirement of Robert Brumund. Speakman also made overtures about running for Will County State’s Attorney back in 2016, but in that election ultimately Glasgow ran unopposed.
Tomczak served as Will County’s State’s Attorney from 2001 through 2004. Nowadays, Tomczak runs the downtown Joliet firm, Tomczak Law Group. In 2018, Tomczak attained an acquittal for Joliet Police Officer Nick Crowley who was charged with reckless discharge of a gun. He also got a not-guilty DUI verdict for Golden Chopsticks owner Peter Chan, who was arrested by the Bolingbrook Police Department during a questionable early morning traffic stop. Tomczak beat Glasgow in 2000. Glasgow beat Tomczak in 2004. Could a rematch be possible in 2020?
Now a private Joliet criminal defense attorney, Dan Walsh was a key member of the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office criminal prosecution team from 2005 until leaving in 2017. He runs the Law Offices of Daniel Walsh. His website notes that during his time in Glasgow’s Office, Walsh handled more than two dozen murder cases. Walsh has spent his entire legal career work in Will County and he has lived in Will County his entire life, his bio notes. In 2017, Walsh announced he was running for Will County Circuit Judge, but he later withdrew. According to his law firm website, “Daniel Walsh is a former Will County prosecutor who has handled hundreds of jury trials and is a true courtroom trial attorney.”
White also works at Cservenyak, Rathbun & Kozol but for decades he was one of the most recognizable faces inside the Will County Courthouse. White was an assistant Will County State’s Attorney from 1979 until 1990, Associate Will County Judge from 1990 until 1994 when he became a circuit court judge. White was presiding judge of felony cases from 1999 until 2002 and Will County’s chief circuit court from 2002 to 2008. Nowadays, as a private practice lawyer, White handles municipal government defense and criminal defense work.
A Joliet native and former investigative reporter and editor with USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin, John Ferak is Patch Editor for Joliet and also writes for Shorewood and Channahon-Minooka.
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