In a complaint made two years ago to the inspector general for the U.S. Department of Justice, federal prosecutor Tim Bass alleged there were grounds to believe that two colleagues in the U.S. attorney's office in Springfield conspired with U.S. District Court Judge Colin Bruce, the presiding judge, to sabotage a corruption case against former U.S. Rep. Aaron Schock.
The Schock case crumbled after Bruce questioned Bass' conduct and the matter was removed from the U.S. attorney's office in central Illinois. Bass' complaint became public last week when U.S. District Court Judge James Shadid ruled documents that the U.S. attorney's office had redacted should be public and turned over to attorneys for a woman who was convicted of kidnapping in Bruce's court and is asking for a new trial on the grounds the judge was biased.
Bruce was removed from hearing criminal cases in 2018, after improper emails between himself and former colleagues in the U.S. attorney's office surfaced. Bruce resumed full duties last fall after an investigation headed by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, which concluded that emails he exchanged with the federal prosecutor's office, while improper, were no signal of real trouble and so an admonishment was sufficient.
In an interview, assistant U.S. attorney Patrick Hansen, one of the prosecutors Bass complained about to the inspector general, laughed at his colleague's assertions, and said there is no truth to Bass' contentions that the Schock prosecution was sabotaged. "That is truly one of the funniest things I've heard," Hansen said.
John Childress, the other prosecutor named by Bass, could not be reached for comment. Lisa Hopps, a paralegal in the U.S. attorney's office, also had concerns about Bruce's conduct, according to records redacted by prosecutors that Shadid made public last week. She said that Bruce had friendships with Childress, Hansen and former U.S. attorney James Lewis, who left the office in 2016. "All three of them are more than aware of Colin's dislike of Tim," Hopps wrote in a 2018 complaint to the Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys. "In fact, Colin has been unable to disconnect himself from our office. It's almost as if he is a silent part of management. No other federal judge in our district is in constant contact with our office and seems to know everything that is going on like Colin does. It's concerning to say the least."