A NEW SHERIFF IN TOWN
Newly minted U.S. attorney John Milhiser is making moves in an office rocked by revelations that prosecutors and other employees have exchanged improper emails with U.S. District Court Judge Colin Bruce, a former federal prosecutor himself, that last summer prompted the judge’s removal from all criminal proceedings, including the corruption case against former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock. Among other things, Bruce, during a criminal trial over which he was presiding, sent an email to a paralegal in the U.S. attorney’s office, suggesting better ways for prosecutors to present their case and laying odds for acquittal. In requesting new trials in two cases, defense attorneys have cited numerous emails suggesting bias and a too-cozy relationship between the judge and his former colleagues in the prosecutor’s office, including one in which a paralegal told Bruce “You’re rockin’ it.” Sources say that the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals based in Chicago has launched an investigation and that employees of the prosecutor’s office were summoned to the Windy City late last month to explain themselves. Meanwhile, Milhiser, who became U.S. attorney last month, set off “whoa’s” in local legal circles recently by going outside the office to tap Doug Quivey, late of the federal public defender’s office, to become first assistant U.S. attorney, the second-highest position in the office. At last report, the appointment wasn’t official due to bureaucratic machinations required before a defense attorney can go to work trying to put folks in jail. But it’s seen as a statement and a signal that the office culture may be changing.