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Defense attorney wants judge off paralyzing punch case

Joseph P. Messina

Joseph P. Messina

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Updated: June 18, 2013 8:23AM



A New Lenox man facing prison time for a 2009 fight that left a Mokena man paralyzed wants the judge who found him guilty off the case.

Lawyers for Joseph Messina, 24, claim Will County Judge Sarah Jones, who found Messina guilty of aggravated battery in January, should recuse herself from the sentencing because she received an email from the state’s attorney’s secretary with a press release about her verdict.

“Quite frankly, it’s not fair to the court. It’s not fair to either side. But it’s an issue that has to be addressed,” Dave Carlson, Messina’s attorney, said during a hearing on Carlson’s motion for a new trial Thursday.

Jones revealed during a March 6 post-trial hearing that State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow’s secretary sent her a copy of Glasgow’s press statement on Messina’s conviction after she issued her verdict.

Jones said she didn’t read the attached statement, and sent a note back asking that they not send her future press releases.

Charles B. Pelkie, spokesman for Glasgow’s office, said the email to Jones was sent two hours after Glasgow’s statement was released to the media.

Assistant State’s Attorney Maria Czech said Jones’ recusal is “completely unwarranted.”

“Why would Mr. Glasgow order his assistant to send (the statement)?” Jones asked Czech.

Glasgow has said that he believed it was not improper because Jones had already determined Messina was guilty, Czech said.

Carlson maintained he does not believe Jones is actually prejudiced, but that the appearance of impropriety is the issue.

“Any decision made from this moment on ... will be under a microscope,” Carlson said. “Your honor, for justice to be done in this, the court has to recuse itself.”

Jones said she needed more time to review the case and set June 28 for the date she will deliver her decision on the motion and possibly proceed to sentencing.



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