Only in Chicago

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So U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and Public Official A’s father-in-law meet in a courtroom hallway...

...What do they say to each other?
Sometimes the oddest exchanges take place in the downtown federal courthouse. I happened to be around for one of them Tuesday afternoon. I was talking to Chicago Ald. Richard Mell (33rd) -- Gov. Blagojevich’s father-in-law -- about a civil case he’s involved in on the 21st floor when Fitzgerald happened to appear. Fitzgerald was en route to another courtroom on the same floor when Mell stopped him.
It’s no secret that Fitzgerald’s office is investigating Blagojevich’s administration and his campaign finances.
Blagojevich’s name is guaranteed to come up repeatedly at Tony Rezko’s trial. Rezko is a former top Blagojevich fundraiser, and adviser. Mell, who has been feuding with the governor publicly and privately over the last couple of years, showed up as an unnamed individual in one of the Rezko court documents. (Sources confirmed his identity to the Sun-Times). He was not accused of wrongdoing.

All of this promised for an awkward exchange with Fitzgerald.
But Mell didn’t miss a beat. He reached out his hand, almost in awe, and slathered on a friendly greeting.
“I’m not here for what’s going on, on 12 (the 12th floor),” Mell said, almost nervously, referring to Rezko’s trial.
“I’m here on civil litigation,” he said, even though Fitzgerald wasn't asking. As a clincher, Mell took it a step further: “I hope that’s where we can keep things," Mell said. "In civil court.”
Fitzgerald gave a polite, uncommitted nod and hurried off.

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Natasha Korecki

Natasha Korecki is the Federal Courts Reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times, covering federal news, corruption investigations and trials.

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This page contains a single entry by Natasha Korecki published on March 4, 2008 11:22 PM.

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