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Burris won't be charged with perjury by Illinois prosecutor

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UPDATED WITH BURRIS STATEMENT

Roland Burris will not be charged with perjury, Downstate prosecutor says

Sangamon County State's Attorney John Schmidt declined to press perjury charges against U.S. Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) stemming from allegations he misled a legislative panel about the circumstances behind his appointment.

Schmidt said that while Burris' answers to the House committee probing former Gov. Blagojevich's impeachment were "incomplete," and vague, that did not rise to the level of a crime. "Based upon our review of the facts and the applicable law, there is insufficient evidence to charge Senator Roland Burris with perjury," Schmidt wrote in a letter to House Speaker Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), whose office encouraged the probe.

Burris said in a statement that he was "very pleased" by the decision. He still has a Senate Ethics Committee probe hanging over him.

Said Burris, "I am obviously very pleased with today's decision by State's Attorney John Schmidt. His investigation was both thorough and fair, and I am glad that the truth has prevailed.

"This matter has now been fully investigated; I cooperated at every phase of the process, and as I have said from the beginning, I have never engaged in any pay-to-play, never perjured myself, and came to this seat in an honest and legal way. Today's announcement confirms all that.

"I am glad I can now put this matter behind me and get on with my work in the United States Senate serving the people of Illinois."

excerpt from Schmidt letter to Madigan:

The Illinois Supreme Court has consistently held the burden is on the questioner to pin the witness down as to the specific object of the questioner's inquiry.

excerpt from Schmidt press release:

The Sangamon County State's Attorney's Office announced today there is insufficient evidence to charge Senator Roland Burris with perjury for his testimony before the Illinois House Special Investigative Committee. In a letter (copy attached) to Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, the state's attorney's office explained the reasons why there is insufficient evidence.

Under Illinois law an individual commits perjury when under oath he knowingly makes a false statement. A review of the evidence, consisting of numerous interviews and documents, indicates there is insufficient evidence to prove Senator Burris made a statement he knew to be false. Some of his statements were vague, but vague statements cannot support a perjury charge.

click below for Schmidt letter to Madigan, press release...

Below, release from Sangamon County State's Attorney and letter to Michael Madigan....
======================================


June 19, 2009


Honorable Michael J. Madigan
Speaker House of Representatives
Room 300
State House
Springfield, IL 62706

Re: Senator Roland Burris

Dear Speaker Madigan:

Pursuant to our telephone conversation and your letter dated February 17, 2009 this office has concluded the review of Senator Burris' testimony before the House Special Investigative Committee. Our office interviewed numerous individuals and reviewed transcripts and affidavits. For the reasons set forth below there is insufficient evidence to charge Senator Burris with the offense of perjury.

Before a prosecutor charges an individual with a criminal offense, he must review all known evidence both inculpatory and exculpatory and determine whether or not based upon the known admissible evidence there is a reasonable likelihood of a success at trial. Thus, any decision to charge must be based solely on the evidence.

In Illinois, the offense of Perjury (720 ILCS 5/32-2) is committed when an individual under oath makes a false statement and at the time of the statement he believes it not to be true. Illinois Pattern Jury Instruction 22.01. Moreover, an individual does not commit perjury if he corrects the known falsity before the adjournment of the tribunal. This provision accomplishes the legislative intent of the law of perjury which is to get complete and truthful information before the tribunal.


Michael Madigan
Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives
Page 2.


Beginning with the 2008 Democratic National Convention and through the election of President Barack Obama, Roland Burris told anyone he thought had the attention of Governor Rod Blagojevich that he was interested in being appointed to President
Obama's vacant senate seat. These conversations occurred at fundraisers where Senator Burris would see individuals he thought were speaking to the governor, and in telephone conversations. The one-on-one conversations were brief and were characterized by the individuals he spoke to as not memorable, and "in passing." In the November 13, 2008 phone conversation with Robert Blagojevich, Mr. Blagojevich called Senator Burris and asked him if he would raise money for Governor Rod Blagojevich. During the call Burris asked how the appointment process was going and asked Robert Blagojevich to remind his brother he (Burris) was interested in the senate appointment. It is clear from the conversation that Robert Blagojevich's call was to raise money for Governor Blagojevich and not to discuss the vacant senate seat.

In a telephone conversation in late November 2008 with John Harris Chief of Staff to Governor Rod Blagojevich, Senator Burris inquired about a job for a family member. He then asked Harris to tell the Governor he was interested in being appointed to the senate seat.

These conversations were not substantive discussions concerning how to get the appointment, but rather Burris imploring the listener to tell Governor Blagojevich he was interested in the appointment.

When Representative Durkin asked Senator Burris if he spoke to members of the Governor's staff or family members regarding his interest in the senate seat, Burris responded, "I talked to some friends about my desire to be appointed, yes." Transcript House Impeachment Committee January 8, 2009 page 941 lines 9-20. This is a truthful answer. While Senator Burris failed to mention the phone conversations with Rob Blagojevich or John Harris, he did say he spoke to friends about his interest. The Illinois Supreme Court has consistently held the burden is on the questioner to pin the witness down as to the specific object of the questioner's inquiry. People v. Robert Willis, 71 Ill 2nd 138 (1978). Next, Senator Burris was asked:

REPRESENTATIVE DURKIN: I guess the point is I was trying to ask,
did you speak to anybody who was on the Governor's staff
prior to the Governor's arrest or anybody, any of those individuals
or anybody who is closely related to the Governor.

MR. BURRIS: I recall having a conversation meeting with Lon Monk about my
Partner and I trying to get continued business . . . Transcript January 8, 2009
Page 941-942

Michael Madigan
Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives
Page 3.


Senator Burris answered the question by recalling a conversation with Lon Monk. The fact he did not mention others does not make the statement perjerous. It makes it incomplete. Again, the burden is on the questioner to ask specific questions. Senator Burris truthfully stated he had a conversation with Lon Monk.

The same analysis applies to Senator Burris's responses to Representative Tracy. Senator Burris is asked to whom he expressed senate seat interest and the time frame September of 2008 or as early as July of 2008. Transcript 998 Lines 13-17. Burris responded that one person he spoke with was his law partner. Chairwoman Currie stated, "Is that when you talked to Lon Monk?" Then Representative Tracy asked, "Was it Lon Monk was that the extent of it Lon Monk." Transcript pages 998-999. Senator Burris reiterated his conversation where Lon Monk told him he was qualified to be in the U.S. Senate. Transcript page 999. Senator Burris was asked, "So you don't recall that there was anybody else besides Lon Monk that you expressed an interest to at that point?" He responded, "No, I can't recall because people were coming to me saying Roland you should pursue the appointment . . ." Id. Moreover, Senator Burris volunteered to give names of individuals the committee could contact regarding his interest in the senate seat. See Transcript page 1000, Line 17-21.

Burris' responses cannot support a perjury charge. He said he could not recall anyone specific because there were many individuals urging him to run. The answer was incomplete, but that is not perjury given the form of the questions.

This is not a criticism of the questioners. The committee was finding facts concerning the possible impeachment of Governor Blagojevich. Asking broad questions allowed a great deal of information to be discussed without the need to constantly ask follow-up questions. However, such questioning makes difficult the prosecution the crime of perjury which is a knowingly untruthful answer to a precise question. Case law clearly mandates very direct specific questions be asked and knowing false answers be given to support perjury. Answers subject to different interpretations or incomplete are insufficient to support perjury.

The two affidavits signed by Senator Burris dated January 5, 2009 and February 4, 2009 are not inconsistent, thus do not support a perjury charge. The January 5, 2009 affidavit only describes the actual appointment process of Governor Blagojevich appointing Roland Burris to the vacant senate seat. It is insufficient to support perjury charges based upon Burris' testimony before the House Impeachment Committee.

Michael Madigan
Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives
Page 4.


The February 4, 2009 affidavit was requested by the Committee and filed to supplement Burris' testimony. This affidavit does not support perjury charges based upon Senator Burris' answers to the House Committee. This affidavit supplements and expands answers while the tribunal was still convened. It should be noted the affidavit was filed with the Special Committee long before Senator Burris knew his conversation with Robert Blagojevich was captured on tape. This fact supports Senator Burris' claim the affidavit was meant to supplement the record while the tribunal was in session.


In sum, based upon our review of the facts and the applicable law, there is insufficient evidence to charge Senator Roland Burris with perjury.

Sincerely,

JOHN SCHMIDT




cc: Honorable Tom Cross
Minority Leader Illinois House of


=================================

JUNE 19, 2009

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS RELEASE

Sangamon County State's Attorney John Schmidt announced today the review into Senator Roland Burris' testimony before the House Special Investigative Committee is complete. There is insufficient evidence to charge Senator Burris with Perjury.

The Sangamon County State's Attorney's Office announced today there is insufficient evidence to charge Senator Roland Burris with perjury for his testimony before the Illinois House Special Investigative Committee. In a letter (copy attached) to Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, the state's attorney's office explained the reasons why there is insufficient evidence.

Under Illinois law an individual commits perjury when under oath he knowingly makes a false statement. A review of the evidence, consisting of numerous interviews and documents, indicates there is insufficient evidence to prove Senator Burris made a statement he knew to be false. Some of his statements were vague, but vague statements cannot support a perjury charge.

Sangamon County State's Attorney John Schmidt thanked everyone for their cooperation with the investigation, including both caucuses of the Illinois House, Senator Richard Durbin, and Patrick Fitzgerald, United State's Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

11 Comments

Why am I not surprised?

Oh My God!!! What a JOKE....If this IDIOT is innocent I'M THE POPE..

Here are the Burris comments:

In the call, Burris says, "It has so many negative connotations that Burris is trying to buy an appointment... I'm trying to figure out how to deal with this and still be in the consideration for the appointment... if I do that I guarantee you that, that will get out and people said, oh, Burris is doing a fundraiser and, and then Rod and I both gonna catch hell..."

He adds, "I know I could give him a check... And, and my law partner we were gonna try to do something at the law firm. I might be able to do this in the name of Tim Wright...."


So, who you gonna believe, Burris or your lying eyes?

Next question: Who bought the Sangamon County State's Attorney or does this just provide another example of why IL will never get past its legacy of corrupt and bad politicians?

La Mordida

Ok, so the Burris Bamboozle doesn't prove perjury, it just proves he's a weasel. His name is posted on my fridge under the "oust" column. Come election day I'm not sure my "oust" list will fit on an 8-1/2 x 11 paper.

They didn't say Mr. Burris was INNOCENT of the charges, they said they DIDN'T HAVE ENOUGH EVIDENCE. These are two very different situations.

Said Burris, "I am obviously very pleased with today's decision by State's Attorney John Schmidt. His investigation was both thorough and fair, and I am glad that the truth has prevailed.

they couldn't find enough evidence to find purgery but they didn't say he was truthful - where does he think that what happened today justifies what he did - whatever now i know as an independent that this fool needs to go away far far away - maybe costa rica eating tarantula's

People are convicted of murder on less. The State Attorney's Office must not have been watching the same Senate hearings that I was. It was obvious at the time that he was dodging the "truth". How could you people think that Mr. Burris just plain misinterpreted the questions. All of America was aware of the nature of the hearings and what the answers to the questions should have been from an honest man. Yes or No. And exactly who and when, etc. Now you are implying that Mr. Burris is a nitwit instead of a liar. Well doesn't that make him incapable of holding office at the very least?

You are an imbarassment to the justice system. Don't you get it? It's not going to be business as usual any more. You will be exposed as the manipulating sad sacks you are if you keep this up. Burris is guilty of perjury and you know it. All of America knows it. You have sent a message to the people and to the President who wants this conniving nonsense stopped, that you people still cannot be trusted., I hope in the near future, you are held accountable.

Is this the dude with the huge gravestone monument to himself listing all his scams?

IF WE THE PEOPLE COULD VOTE ON THIS HE WOULD BE IMPEACHED AND IN JAIL!
What a railroad scam! How darte they NOT prosecute this miserable criminal.
I am living in an insane state. Something is going to break. Some one is. He won't be crazy either.

IF WE THE PEOPLE COULD VOTE ON THIS HE WOULD BE IMPEACHED AND IN JAIL!
What a railroad scam! How darte they NOT prosecute this miserable criminal.
I am living in an insane state. Something is going to break. Some one is. He won't be crazy either.

No one is denying there is evidence of his perjury. The prosecutor thinks its "insufficient".

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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