From the Illinois Review blog:
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Death of Bloomington area boys provokes heated exchange on House floor
The Connolly boys’ grieving family and friends demand Circuit Judge James Souk, who presided over visitation rights, resign and they have asked others to sign an online petition which says:
We the undersigned respectfully request that Circuit Judge James Souk be held accountable for his contribution to the murders of Duncan and Jack Leichtenberg formerly known as Duncan and Jack Connolly. Judge Souk granted unsupervised visitation to Michael Connolly despite the overwhelming amount of evidence, order of protection violations totaling over fifty in a year and suicidal threats over the phone to the LeRoy Police Department. His mental state alone was reason enough to limit his contact with the boys. Judge Souk needs to resign as Judge and face a jury of his peers. We believe you are as guilty as Michael Connolly and without your judgement these boys would still be alive.
The family also gives the online location where complaints can be filed against Judge Souk. One woman’s recorded account of Judge Souk’s court behavior is especially troubling:
On March 13, 2009, I sat in a child support hearing in Bloomington, IL. I was stunned when I realized that the judge, James E. Souk, had actually fallen asleep while there was a witness on the stand, and evidence was being presented.
Indeed, in a statement read to reporters last week, the boys’ mother, Amy Liechtenberg, said “the judicial system failed me. I pray that the courts listen to other parents like me.”
When State Rep. Dan Brady (R-Bloomington) asked for a moment of silence on the House Floor Friday in respect for his district’s loss, another lawmaker, State Rep. Bob Biggins (R-Elmhurst) called for investigation into Judge Souk. A short heated exchange erupted, as chronicled by the Tribune’s Clout Street:
Rep. Bob Biggins (R-Elmhurst) suggested the House initiate an investigation of the judge who granted the boys’ father unsupervised visits with his sons.
“It’s an unpleasant topic and I’m not going to shut up about it,” Biggins said. “The judge made the decision to let those children be put to their death. Let’s investigate the judge.”
Biggins was warned by Rep. John Fritchey (D-Chicago) to be careful in placing blame on the judge.
“Saying that a judge knowing signed an order that led to the deaths of two children is a terrible thing,” Fritchey said. “An unwarranted thing to put on the head of any human being, to put on the head of a member of the judiciary.”
Biggins responded by inquiring why Fritchey was afraid to investigate the judge.
“I’ll be damned if you’re going to say I’m afraid of looking into this,” Fritchey replied. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
Judge Souk was first elected to the post in 2002, when he won a Republican primary with 60 percent of the vote following the previous judge’s retirement.
Rep. Biggins’ was right to call for an oversight hearing on Judge Souk. With the numerous reports gathering questioning Judge Souk’s competency, it appears a little overreaction to the situation could save other potentially endangered young lives.
The Battered Moms Lose Children to Abusers blog asks their readers to thank Rep. Biggins for calling for an investigation. We join them. Write firstname.lastname@example.org, join the petition drive and show support for this family.
Thank you Representative Biggins for your good work.
You’re in good company with many more legislators across this nation…