Hosey: Picking and choosing who gets charged

When you’re a prosecutor entrusted to mete out justice, there are some things you just can’t let slide. And if you’re a special prosecutor, the responsibility to uphold the law is all the greater.

That’s not to say you might let a guy off easy when he pulls a stunt you yourself may not personally condone, something like an unprovoked attack on an unsuspecting pedestrian. But when it’s a particularly vile crime, perhaps along the lines of making a telephone call to the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office with the intent to abuse or harass Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow and his receptionists, that’s where a special prosecutor has to draw the line. And that’s exactly what Special Prosecutor Bill Elward did, bringing a criminal case against a Joliet man accused of calling Glasgow’s office and screaming obscenities at a receptionist.

No one should have to put up with someone screaming obscenities at them, but let’s be honest and stop pretending this has anything to do with the receptionist. It’s all about State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow and Special Prosecutor Elward providing him some special treatment.

Elward, after all, is the same special prosecutor who only took about a year to decide not to charge Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk with a crime even though he was caught on video grabbing and dragging away a man who was doing nothing more than walking along West Jefferson Street after a Black Lives Matter rally devolved into rioting and looting.

Prosecuting Attorney Bill Elward makes his final closing statements in the Sheley murder trial Thursday in Rock Island.

As bad as it may be to scream obscenities at someone, it can’t be worse than confronting and roughing up another person. Not unless the person doing the confronting and roughing up is none other than Joliet Mayor Bob O’Dekirk, or the one getting screamed at works for someone as special as Will County State’s Attorney Jim Glasgow.

Elward ended up with O’Dekirk’s case after his lawyer sent the state’s attorney a letter, effectively neutering Glasgow and leading him to turn the matter over to someone else, someone who decided not to press charges, for some reason.

Will County States Attorney James Glasgow speaks to the Herald-News on Friday, Feb. 7, 2020, in Joliet, Ill.

Elward, incidentally, also had a hand in convicting wife-killing former Bolingbrook cop Drew Peterson of supposedly conspiring to orchestrate Glasgow’s murder from behind the walls of a maximum security prison more than 300 miles from Joliet. Elward was with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office at the time and part of the prosecution team trying the case down in Randolph County.

During the trial, the prosecution team didn’t present much in the way of evidence showing Peterson was actually doing anything to further the plot to have Glasgow killed, nothing quite as compelling, say, as a video showing him committing the crime. But in the end, the jury didn’t seem particularly troubled by that and found Peterson guilty.

In this May 8, 2009 file photo, former Bolingbrook police officer Drew Peterson arrives for court in Joliet. Peterson is serving a 38-year sentence for killing Kathleen Savio, and is a suspect in the disappearance of his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson. The Bolingbrook Police Pension Board voted unanimously Wednesday to compel Drew Peterson to provide deposition testimony in a case that will determine whether his pension should be taken away from him.

Glasgow was pleased and he even thanked Elward by name.

“And Bill Elward, he’s the funniest attorney in Illinois,” Glasgow said. “Unfortunately this isn’t the case where you show your humor, but talk to him over a beer and you won’t stop laughing.”

Maybe over that beer Elward could explain how he decides who to charge. The reasons are probably hilarious.

• Joe Hosey is the editor of The Herald-News. You can reach him at 815-280-4094, at or on Twitter @JoeHosey.

Joseph Hosey

Joseph Hosey

Joe Hosey became editor of The Herald-News in 2018. As a reporter, he covered the disappearance of Stacy Peterson and criminal investigation of her husband, former Bolingbrook police Sgt. Drew Peterson. He was the 2015 Illinois Journalist of the Year and 2014 National Press Club John Aubuchon Press Freedom Award winner.