Bruce Murphy apparently thinks that at least parts of the state criminal complaint against Alderman Michael McGee, Jr. are "overkill."
But as a result of wiretapping McGee’s phone, Chisholm has thrown in this bizarre conspiracy by McGee and two others to commit bodily harm against someone – except that no violence ever occurred. Even weirder is a charge of contempt of court because McGee was overheard calling a judge names on the phone. Is Chisholm serious? Contempt of court normally occurs in public, in an open courtroom, where negative comments might help undermine our respect for the judicial system. But McGee was having a private conversation with a couple friends and blowing off a little steam.
What’s next, nabbing the alderman for writing naughty graffiti?
Murphy has done some great reporting, but this one really got past him. In this case, he doesn't seem to understand what he is writing about.
The first two counts - solicitation to commit a felony and conspiracy to commit substantial battery - do not require that "violence" occur. The first requires only that McGee advise another to commit a crime under circumstances that indicate unequivocally that he had the intent that the crime be committed. The second requires only that he conspire with others to commit the crime of substantial battery and that one of the conspirators do an act to effect the object of the conspiracy.
According to the complaint, McGee - in multiple phone calls - acted as a go between for an individual who believed that the potential victim had burglarized his home and another who was initially going to kill the alleged burglar but, ultimately, agreed to have him beat up when the first man indicated that he did not want him killed. According to the complaint, McGee facilitated the agreement of a price for the beating and provided the person who was to have it done with a photograph of the intended victim.
Maybe these things will not be proven or there is evidence - not referred to in the complaint - that will support a defense. But the fact that the conspiracy was not completed or the solicitation not acted upon does not, in and of itself, make the charges defective or unusual. There is a reason that solicitation and conspiracy are called "inchoate crimes." They need not be finished.
The supposedly "even weirder" criminal contempt counts are not, as Murphy seems to think, based upon McGee "calling a judge names on the phone" (although the complaint does recite that he did that). Rather these counts - 10, 11, and 12 in the complaint - are expressly predicated on McGee's alleged disclosure of the substance of the John Doe proceedings in violation of a secrecy order. In other words, the contempt is based not on calling the judge a name, but upon disobeying her order.