Prosecutor named for impeachment trial

January 14, 2009 5:34:26 AM PST
Illinois House counsel David Ellis will serve as prosecutor in the historic trial. On Tuesday, the governor returns to Springfield to preside over the swearing in of the 96th Illinois Senate. Those same lawmakers will serve as the jury for the impeachment trial.

David Ellis is a graduate of Downers Grove North High, the University of Illinois and Northwestern law school.

Two years ago, he became the chief legal counsel for the speaker of the Illinois House.

The law is his profession, but he also has a passion for writing, and now, at age 41, David Ellis becomes part of a process that will make Illinois history.

David Ellis oversaw the legal work before the House Select committee on impeachment. He is the House counsel and works at the right hand of Speaker Mike Madigan.

"I've been privileged to work with the investigative committee. I know the material rather well. I feel very strongly about our case and I think I'm ready, willing and able to do the best job that we can put forth here," said Ellis.

Madigan has opted to stay with Ellis, rather than hire outside counsel to prosecute the impeachment case in the Senate.

David Ellis specializes in constitutional law. He is not a criminal lawyer, but the trial of Governor Blagojevich in the Senate will not be a criminal proceeding. It is a political process.

Senators will listen to the articles of impeachment, the witnesses Ellis calls, and the governor's case. If, at the end, two thirds of them vote to convict, Rod Blagojevich is out immediately.

"The most important thing is he can no longer sign bills, he can no longer issue executive orders, etc," said Prof. Ann Lousin of John Marshall School of Law.

On Tuesday, the governor will convene the new Senate, and shortly thereafter, the Senate sergeant at arms will deliver a summons to the governor's office starting process for a trial that's tentatively set to begin January 26.

"We're not looking for a circus or surprises. I'm not hiding my evidence. I think it's clear what we think," said Ellis.

The governor's lead lawyer Ed Genson said on Monday that he'll ask for a two week postponement, but doesn't think he'll get it.

Genson also praised Ellis as a good, and honorable lawyer.

Ellis also has won respect as an accomplished writer - not of legal briefs - but of five, and soon to be six legal novels which have won some acclaim. Does the history he now becomes part of find its way into future literary efforts?

"If you're asking me if there's fodder her, I'm not sure anyone would believe it if I put it into a book," said Ellis.