FILE - Anne Burke

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke.

A report that the next Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, Anne Burke, participated in decisions that may have benefitted clients of her husband's law firm has put the state's top judicial official under the microscope.

NPR station WBEZ Chicago’s investigation of Anne Burke’s decisions revealed that she participated in at least ten Illinois Supreme Court decisions that benefitted her husband’s property tax appeal clients. Federal prosecutors indicted Chicago Alderman Ed Burke in a sweeping Chicago City Hall corruption probe earlier in January.

After the report, state Rep. Grant Wehrli, R-Naperville, asked the Judicial Inquiry Board to investigate. 

“Ethics laws exist for a reason, and every elected official, from library board trustee all the way up to Justices of the Supreme Court, have a responsibility to avoid any appearance of impropriety,” Wehrli said.

It’s common for lawmakers, judges and other officials to recuse themselves from a decision to avoid a potential conflict of interest, Wehrli said.

“Even the appearance of impropriety in this day and age is a bad thing,” he said. “We need to hold elected officials to a higher standard.” 

The board can either dismiss the complaint, investigate it, or call the judge to testify before making a decision. The board cannot discuss decisions or other details of its investigations. 

A spokesman for the Supreme Court was not immediately available for comment. 

A previous inquiry into Justice Burke was dismissed after they were asked to investigate a fundraiser that was held in the couple’s home, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Staff Reporter

Cole Lauterbach reports on Illinois government and statewide issues for The Center Square. He has produced radio shows for stations in Bloomington/Normal and Peoria, and created award-winning programs for Comcast SportsNet Chicago.