D.205 School Board president wants jury to decide his fate

2013-06-19T15:54:00Z 2013-06-19T23:22:08Z D.205 School Board president wants jury to decide his fateGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
June 19, 2013 3:54 pm  • 

CHICAGO | The Cook County state’s attorney’s office has been trying to get a judge to remove Thornton Township High School District 205 Board President Kenneth Williams from his post, but the judge ruled Wednesday that it might be more appropriate for a jury to decide his fate.

Associate Judge Rita Novak ruled in favor of a request made by attorneys for Williams to consider putting the case to a jury sometime later this year.

Novak also rejected two other legal motions made during an hourlong hearing in her Daley Center courtroom. Prosecutors wanted her to approve an order that would immediately remove Williams from his School Board president post, while defense attorneys wanted the entire case dismissed.

At stake is the fate of Williams, who back in 1985 was sentenced to a five-year prison term on a charge in Indiana of aiding or inducing a forgery. Williams served 22 months in prison and still has the felony conviction on his record, although he has not been charged with anything since and has gone on to create a business, The Silk ‘n’ Classy barber college in Dolton.

The state’s attorney’s office argues the felony conviction is sufficient to make him ineligible to serve on a school board, even though he was elected in 2009 and re-elected earlier this year. He won the most votes of any candidate for the District 205 School Board in the April 9 elections.

Assistant State’s Attorney Sisivahn Baker said the school code makes it clear the felony conviction on his record made him ineligible to run for the education-related post.

But Matthew Dodge, an attorney representing Williams, said the combination of the school code and election code say that a felony conviction only removes a public official if the offense is done during their term in office.

Novak, who has spent the past two months reading legal briefs submitted by attorneys for both sides, said during the hearing she does not believe the case is as cut-and-dried as either side is trying to make it out to be, and she said she is willing to consider a motion sending this case to a jury if the request is properly filed.

Attorneys are scheduled to reconvene July 24 for a status hearing on the matter. Williams did not appear in court Wednesday and was not available to comment.

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