An ordinance that would trigger special reporting from the State’s Attorney’s Office on big County financial settlements is up for consideration in the Cook County Finance Subcommittee on Litigation. The ordinance, sponsored by Commissioner Bridget Gainer and co-sponsored by Comm. Larry Suffredin and Comm. Peter Silvestri,includes a provision requiring the State’s Attorney’s office to release photo, video, or other relevant evidence in cases where the County seeks to settle for more than $500,000.
The ordinance was introduced weeks after the release of the Laquan McDonaldvideo, and after Cook County Commissioners John Fritchey and Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia called for State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez to testify before the board on her role in the case. Comm. Richard Boykin has also called for a special prosecutor in future police shooting cases in the County, arguing the State’s Attorney’s relationship with police is too close to prosecute fairly.
In any settlement above that amount, the SA’s office would have to disclose potential conflicts of interest in the case, the employment status of County stakeholders named in the case, and “significant tangible evidence” like photos or video that are relevant to the settlement recommendation. The SA would also have to submit an annual summary of all cases settled for more than $500,000, and report regularly to the County’s Ethics Officer on county employees involved in settlements.
“As advocates for the best interests of all Cook County stakeholders it is our job as County Commissioners to ensure we are given all information in order to make decisions with millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars. Access to this information will also help serve as an additional safety-net for our critical first-responders: police officers, sheriff’s deputies, doctors, nurses and all Cook County employees,” Gainer said in a statement.