By: Diane Benjamin
As I write Michael Cadena is still in jail in Massachusetts. His son Mikey’s whereabouts are unknown. Amber (mom) Buck’s attorney refuses to disclose this information. Sources tell me that there is a significant question regarding the transfer of the child and if proper Massachusetts procedure was followed or if it was even legal. That story is still developing.
Many things are happening behind the scenes in this case, much of which I can’t write about yet.
Tomorrow Michael has a hearing. His criminal attorney, Michael Bradley, plans to challenge the validity of the warrant used to incarcerate him as well as denial of bail. As previously reported, on September 7, 2018 Judge LeAnn Hill found Michael Cadena in direct criminal contempt of court for failing to return to Illinois with his son. However, unlike indirect contempt, direct criminal contempt of court occurs in the immediate presence of the judge. I can say that I and an out-of-state reporter looking into this case have not been able to find more than a handful of cases where a charge like this has stuck. In fact, all other Illinois cases were overturned in the Supreme Court. At the end of the hearing Hill ordered the issuing of a warrant to arrest Michael Cadena.
On September 27, 2018, during another hearing before Judge Hill, a discussion was had regarding the limitations of the September 9th warrant and why it was not enforceable to extradite Michael Cadena to Illinois. Transcripts show Sheriff Sandage was called to testify and there was further discussion regarding an email from the States Attorney’s office that details specifics given on how a warrant may be entered into the NCIC system. I have come into possession of this email. Hill had been frustrated at a previous hearing that her warrant was only entered into the LEADS system. Hill recalled the September 9th warrant and issued a new one adding the words “extraditable with no geographical limits”. She is quoted as saying this was a “hybrid warrant”, meaning it had no basis in the law. Michael’s Illinois attorney, Adele Saaf swiftly filed an appeal challenging the validity of this warrant and it is currently docketed in the Illinois 4th District Appellate Court.
This current warrant, and the process used to enforce it is unlawful. It transitioned a civil case into a criminal case improperly and denied Michael Cadena his constitutional right to due process. I and the other reporter reached out to several Illinois criminal attorneys who are not directly involved in this case and who wished to remain anonymous – all said to “challenge the warrant”. Additionally, a civil rights attorney based in Chicago, who also requested to remain anonymous, stated without a doubt, “Whether not Mr. Cadena remains incarcerated or if he is freed, he will have a civil rights case against McLean County”.
This unlawful warrant violates Illinois (725 ILCS 225/3) and Massachusetts (M.G.L. c. 276 §14) for the following reasons:
- There is no affidavit or indictment attached
- Michael is not a fugitive from justice
- There is no demand from an Executive Authority in Illinois to an Executive Authority in Massachusetts
- Michael is not accused or convicted of a crime. Direct Criminal Contempt is not codified in the Illinois Criminal Code, it is an offense in common law only
This case has gone far beyond complex and controversial. The recent actions by Judge Hill and Amber’s attorney to purposefully deny Michael Cadena his constitutional rights as a criminal defendant are not only questionable and shameful but put a serious spotlight on the judicial practices of this county. A judge’s role is to make findings of fact, apply law to fact, and to make rulings. They should not be involved in the execution of the process. It is more than unethical. I have been told a Massachusetts Representative and 2 Senators are pushing the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office to investigate this warrant and get it vacated. Our State’s Attorney must quit sitting on the sidelines. If the warrant is ruled illegal, Michael Cadena has a huge civil rights lawsuit against McLean County. A jury will not look kindly on illegal imprisonment. Not only that, whether the States Attorney’s office acknowledges it or not, they had a hand in creating this warrant and having it entered into the NCIC system. Things may or may not have escalated to a higher agency, I am still looking to confirm. Stay tuned.
The State’s Attorney has said he will not pay for the extradition of Michael Cadena. Sheriff Sandage told me this morning the 11th Judicial Circuit would get the bill. I’m still looking into whether that is common practice.