Saturday, September 17, 2011

Some people don’t know when to shut it

My guess is that it falls into the category of “screaming ‘fire’ in a crowded film theater.” Or perhaps joking about having a bomb packed in one’s luggage while waiting in the security lines at the airport.
MADIGAN: Threatened? Or too touchy?

But there is a man from the Roseland neighborhood who now faces some serious criminal charges, all because he couldn’t resist the chance to take a pot-shot at Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

NOT THAT MAURICE Pennington is any stranger to the legal system, particularly its methods of incarceration as punishment.

For it seems that the 56-year-old Pennington already has served time in prison in Texas after being found guilty in that state of sexual activity with an underage girl.

After completing his prison time in Texas, Pennington came our way. He now lives among us. Although considering that former prison inmates have to live somewhere, it would be ridiculous to think that we don’t (or shouldn’t) have any in Chicago.

In order to remain in compliance with Illinois law, he has to notify his local police department of his presence in the community – along with his exact address.

THAT INFORMATION THEN goes to the Illinois State Police, which puts it out there for the public to see on the Internet. The idea is that people have a right to know if someone who committed a sex crime is now living near them.

The Illinois General Assembly passed the laws requiring such registration years ago, as have legislatures in other states. The concept has received legal review in the appeals courts. Thus far, it has been deemed acceptable.

But that doesn’t sway Pennington , nor does it discourage him. Pennington has filed a lawsuit that contends such a notification requirement is a significant burden on his life and his ability to “rehabilitate” himself.

He’d like it if a judge somewhere were to declare the concept of notification to be un-Constitutional.

AND IN ONE of his legal briefs related to his lawsuit, he wrote statements that were derogatory towards the image and persona of state Attorney General Lisa Madigan. No one is saying exactly what his lawsuit stated about her. But it seems that it was hostile enough to be construed as a threat.

That is what led the police officers who work under Madigan to show up at Pennington’s Roseland residence on Thursday and arrest him. He got to spend the night and the bulk of the day Friday in a holding cell, and was to be in court for a bond hearing Friday night.

All because he felt the need to include a few derogatory sentences in his legal brief, which he crafted himself because Pennington is acting as his own attorney.

He may think he’s a legal genius. Although I’m more inclined to think that he can’t find an attorney willing to take on a lawsuit that challenges the legal requirement about ex-inmates notifying the police of their presence.

WE CAN MAKE all the wisecracks that we want about stupid criminals or the fact that this case seems to be a legal no-brainer in terms of “guilt” or “innocence.”

The evidence is the written copy of his lawsuit. His words are in print.

Yet what strikes me the most about this particular case is some of the reaction it is generating on the Internet. Those anonymous people who like to post blatantly-partisan, if not outright-ignorant, comments about everything seem to be taking up the cause of Pennington.

Because Madigan is of the Democratic Party persuasion and is the eldest daughter of Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, there are those who claim she is impinging on his freedom to speak or express himself.

ONE PERSON USED the Chicago Tribune website to say that Madigan should, “shrug this off.”

Even though Pennington is charged with threatening a public official, which is a felony. Just as it is a crime to do anything that could be construed as threatening a police officer, the same general concept applies to the attorney general.

Except that some people seem to want to think that only certain public officials are entitled to protection from harassment. That is taking partisan politics to a new level of lowness. In fact, it may well be more bizarre than the idea of someone writing a threat into a lawsuit – which is what Pennington is accused by prosecutors of doing.

So keep in mind that when the headline of this commentary implies that some people should “shut it,” Pennington isn’t the only person I’m referring to.


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