Jeff Terronez Photo credit: Quad City Times

The public always hears about the threats that defendants make against law enforcement, judges, and attorneys. It seems like you can’t pick up a mystery or suspense book or see a film these days in which some attorney or judge isn’t being stalked or threatened by someone they are prosecuting. It almost seems like authors and movie-makers don’t feel that the public will be interested in a film or a book without the personal connection between the law and the lawbreaker.

What we should be asking ourselves is: How many times is it the other way around? How many times are the police officers, the prosecutors or the judges involved in deliberately doing something wrong that they do not have to do and which affects the rights or outcome for a defendant? Movie-makers and authors stretch the plots and credibility in order to engage the reader or movie-seer. The really weird facts are the ones which often arise in reality, such as in this situation with Rock Island County State’s Attorney, Jeff Terronez. It would have been so simple for Terronez to remove himself from prosecuting Jason VanHoutte, in the article below. Instead, Terronez had to go ahead and prosecute the case himself; willing to accept a guilty plea while all the time keeping silent about his own involvement with the alleged victim. Read between the lines and you can hear Lisa Madigan’s own disbelief about this situation:

…Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Tuesday she is not concerned about the possibility cases prosecuted by Terronez could be thrown out in the wake of his guilty plea. She categorized his relationship with the victim as “extremely inappropriate” and “illegal, unethical and unprofessional.”

Asked whether investigators sought evidence of a sexual relationship, Madigan replied, “Absolutely. We had as many questions and were just as skeptical as you are…”

Convicted teacher’s attorney: ‘Prosecution was not impartial’

Attorney General Madigan: Terronez guilty, resigns

Note however, that Terronez had to resign, pays a $2,500 fine and loses his pension; but he still got only 2 years probation after a guilty plea! Despite making a mockery of the judicial system process and with action concerning a minor, this is still just a slap on the wrist for one of the worst incidents of prosecutorial misconduct.

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