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Column: County finds justice comes at a price

A couple of weeks ago, two potential jurors in the Nicholas Sheley murder trial got in trouble with the judge.

Outside the courtroom, officials said, both men admitted to commenting in front of other potential jurors that it was a waste of time and taxpayer money to try Sheley when he’s already been convicted in another murder.

The judge reprimanded the men. He feared they could have biased other potential jurors.

“I think you both understand the situation you’ve created,” Judge F. Michael Meersman told them. “If you don’t, you’re dumber than I thought.”

The two men weren’t the only ones who have expressed that opinion. Months ago, I heard a Whiteside County Board member say the same thing at a committee meeting.

County Board members are seeing mounting costs because of bills associated with the Sheley cases. One member wondered why the county even needed a trial because Sheley already is serving life in prison without parole for the murder of a 65-year-old Galesburg man. Sheley is accused in seven other deaths.

Could you imagine if our country dropped murder charges against those who are serving life in prison?

Victims’ families and friends deserve to have justice served. Let’s assume Sheley weren’t guilty of the other murders. If the state decided against holding trials, then the real perpetrator would remain at large.

Of course, no one likes to see mounds of money going toward the Sheley cases. But one of government’s core functions is justice. It’s part of that compact called the Constitution, which grants defendants certain rights.

Sure, it costs money, but would you want it any other way?

Our very own Obama-Romney race

I’m a political junkie. For months, I’ve been catching up on all the latest about the presidential race.

Our newspaper has received many letters endorsing either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. Some local residents even have posted presidential campaign signs.

But that won’t have any effect on the race’s outcome. Illinois is not a swing state; it’s decidedly in the Democratic column, with its electoral votes going to Obama. A Republican hasn’t won the Land of Lincoln since 1988.

Romney has no hope of prevailing here, just as Obama has no chance in Texas.

Rest assured, though, voters in the 17th Congressional District, which includes Whiteside County, have a mini-Obama-Romney race. Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, generally agrees with Romney, while Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, is aligned with Obama.

Lee County, which is in the 16th Congressional District, doesn’t have a real race. Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Manteno, is far ahead. He has raised nearly $2 million, far more than the $34,000 raised by his Democratic opponent, Wanda Rohl, D-Ottawa.

The Democrats aren’t putting up a fight in that district, which was designed for Republicans.

So you haven’t seen much about that race. At the same time, Schilling, Bustos and their allies have been blanketing our airwaves.

If you happened to catch a radio or TV ad for Romney or Obama, you probably were tuned into an Iowa or Wisconsin station.

Those are actual battlegrounds.

David Giuliani is a reporter for Sauk Valley Media. He can be reached at dgiuliani@saukvalley or at 800-798-4085, ext. 525. 

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