Remembering Lori Lightfoot’s Legal Misconduct - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Remembering Lori Lightfoot’s Legal Misconduct
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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot speaks to the press on May 25, 2022, following a city council meeting (FOX 32 Chicago/YouTube)

For purposes of the following hypothetical, imagine yourself as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

Not a bad gig. Then again, the 7th Circuit is based in Chicago, a city which, despite the picturesque setting on Lake Michigan, magnificent buildings, great food, and rich cultural amenities, suffers from Democratic rule and high rates of violent crime.

And if you’re a city dweller with school-age kids, forget about the broken, government-run schools.

Fortunately, your judicial salary covers private-school tuition, so you’re good there — unlike lower-income families without options because the teachers union syndicate and the Democrats it elects oppose charter schools and voucher programs.

In any case, it’s 2:20 p.m. when a clerk brings you an emergency motion for a stay of extradition on behalf of Lars Lindstrom.

Lindstrom, a Swede wanted in Norway for fraud, is appealing a lower court’s denial of a habeas corpus petition that his lawyers filed to challenge his extradition. He is alleging various procedural irregularities.

Once Lindstrom is physically removed from the U.S., the court will lose jurisdiction over the case. You immediately grant the stay so that the legal challenge can be properly vetted.

The federal prosecutor handling Lindstrom’s extradition, who happens to be in the courthouse, is informed of your order at 2:55 p.m.

Meanwhile, Norwegian agents, accompanied by a United States marshal, have taken Lindstrom from the courthouse to O’Hare International Airport for a 5 p.m. flight.

The prosecutor knows of Lindstrom’s imminent departure. She does not immediately disclose it to you — or to Lindstrom’s attorney.

Instead, at 4:40 p.m., the prosecutor files a motion asking you to reconsider. The motion, which notes the 5 p.m. departure, references the efforts taken by the government to secure Lindstrom’s extradition and argues that the appeal is frivolous.

If you don’t revoke the stay, the motion explains, the government will have to take Lindstrom back into custody.

Having seen sufficient reason to pause the extradition, you immediately deny the motion. At 5:45 p.m., Lindstrom’s plane takes off — believe it or not, with Lindstrom aboard.

What happened?

The prosecutor misled you. After you ordered the stay, she, in consultation with her superiors, decided that Lindstrom’s “extradition” occurred in the courthouse garage en route to O’Hare — shortly before you granted the emergency motion.

Because your order stayed the extradition but didn’t specifically provide that Lindstrom was not to be physically removed from the country, the stay was moot, according to the government.

The theory is sketchy — and beside the point. This is why:

Had [you] received timely notice that [your] stay was being so interpreted by the officials to whom it was directed, [you] would no doubt have issued a further order making clear that the stay was a stay of removal and not some metaphysical act of “extradition.”

This quote comes from the 7th Circuit case decided in 2000 that our hypothetical tracks. The respondent, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori E. Lightfoot, was publicly reprimanded for misleading the court.

Yes, the same Lori E. Lightfoot who is now the woke, weak mayor of Chicago. Under Lightfoot’s ruinous leadership, the Windy City is experiencing record-breaking crime and disorder — along with a massive outflow of capital and businesses to better locales. (Think Florida and Texas.)

Lightfoot “owed it to this court and to Lindstrom to advise his lawyer and Judge [Ilana] Rovner immediately of her interpretation,” the 7th Circuit emphatically wrote in Lindstrom v. Graber (an earlier proceeding that held that Lindstrom’s removal nullified his legal challenge).

Recall too that Lightfoot’s reconsideration motion provided that, unless the stay was lifted, the government would have to take Lindstrom back into its custody. The 7th Circuit wrote, “Anyone reading [the] motion would suppose that the government understood the stay to be a prohibition against Lindstrom’s being removed from the United States.”

Now some perspective. Some lawyers lie. And government officials regularly abuse their powers in ways worse than Lightfoot’s behavior above — a single case in which Lightfoot was called upon to make decisions within a short time period.

The point here isn’t even that she failed the test — and she did, miserably. Every lawyer knows that candor towards the tribunal is nonnegotiable.

The real takeaway is that Lightfoot has refused to accept any responsibility. As noted in the disciplinary opinion, she blamed her superiors.

While the court was indeed critical of her office, it was Lightfoot, 37 at the time, who filed the misleading motion. It was she who had the duty to inform the court of the government’s position — and to apprise Lindstrom’s legal counsel.

She still won’t accept any responsibility, telling Politico in 2018 that she disagreed with the court’s reprimand.

Speaking of refusing responsibility, Lightfoot blames Chicago’s problems on policing and racism — declaring the latter to be a “public health crisis” in the city. The real problem is systemic liberalism, of course, but there’s no space to explore that here. (READ MORE: The Windy City’s Storm of Violence)

Lightfoot is hardly the only Democratic mayor to blame guns, policing, and racism for inner-city intergenerational poverty, dysfunction, and despair.

That said, as the disciplinary matter epitomizes, blaming others appears to be a personality trait extending beyond the political for Lightfoot.

Ken Sondik is an attorney in Zionsville, Indiana. Reach him at kensondik@gmail.com

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