Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Relationship with cop gets attorney in trouble

A Kane County assistant state's attorney will be suspended for four weeks without pay for having a relationship with an officer who served as a witness in several of the prosecutor's cases.

County Prosecutor John Barsanti said he was tipped about the relationship between Assistant State's Attorney Elizabeth Lovig and the officer. Lovig eventually acknowledged the relationship.

Barsanti's office is conducting an internal investigation on the relationship. Maintaining such a relationship without disclosing it, is a violation of office policy, Barsanti said.

Lovig, 43, will start her suspension next month. Lovig has led the state's attorney's domestic-violence unit since 2002.

According to Barsanti, Lovig's relationship with the unnamed officer began in 2001, and the office has identified six cases in which the officer served as a witness.

Two of those cases resulted in acquittals, and two others ended with a guilty plea. The remaining two yielded convictions, and these may be retried.

One of them is already scheduled for a retrial. Duka Smith, 31, of Aurora, was convicted in April of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. His conviction was vacated last week, Barsanti said. A new court date has been set for July 17.

Additionally, Barsanti said he has informed the defense attorneys in each of the five other identified cases. The concern, he said, is that the defense attorneys, the judge and the jury deserve to know whether testimony given may be biased and whether it affected the outcome of the trial.

"We have an obligation to ensure that all parties in a criminal matter are treated fairly, including defendants, and that the interests of justice are served," he said.

The identity of the Aurora police officer was not released.

No immediate disciplinary action has been taken against the officer. "I am disappointed that the actions of our officer may have compromised justice being served in these cases," Chief Greg Thomas said.

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