State's attorney candidate accused of contempt

January 24, 2008 4:12:15 PM PST
A candidate for Cook County's top prosecutor is answering claims that he was held in contempt of court for failing to follow a judge's order. ABC7 has obtained documents that show a judge overseeing a divorce proceeding ruled Chicago Alderman Howard Brookins in contempt. Brookins calls it a simple mix up that was quickly resolved.

There was a civil debate Thursday between the people who want to be the next Cook State's Attorney. But bubbling just beneath the surface was the courtroom history of one of the candidates.

Howard Brookins, Jr.'s divorce records show that last May the Chicago alderman was held in indirect civil contempt of court. The reason: Failure to pay $1,083 and provide proof of life insurance for the benefit of his son. A judge had ordered Brookins to pay that money two months earlier.

"Uh, I'm sorry?" Brookins responded Thursday.

"You were held in civil contempt during your divorce proceeding," ABC7's Ben Bradley countered.

"No, I was not," Brookins responded.

Alderman Brookins claimed Thursday afternoon he had not been held in contempt. But two hours later, he came to ABC7 to set the record straight.

"It caught me by surprise with respect to the date. I've always paid child support. I'm a person of integrity," said Brookins.

"It seems Alderman Brookins only accepts his responsibility and answers to it when he's dragged into court," said Anita Alvarez, (D), Cook Co. state's attorney candidate.

Alvarez, who is currently a top deputy in the state's attorney's office, called a news conference to criticize Brookins' handling of the contentious divorce. Court records show that last April, Brookins asked for a delay in making medical payments for his son.

In court, Brookins' attorney asked his client's ex-wife "if she would be willing to wait until maybe a week after the election, since Brookins is in a run-off for Alderman."

"Absolutely not," was the response.

"When you're dealing with child support, an important function of the state's attorney's office, there's no room for any excuse, especially if you're excuse is politics. Children come first," said Larry Suffredin, (D), Cook Co. state's attorney candidate.

"I love my son. I've always supported my son. This is the same type of attacks they alleged against Harold Washington," said Brookins.