Anthony Jackson’s journey through the criminal court system has been a family affair.
It’s also been one of the strangest ones in recent memory.
Jackson’s brother was the second-chair attorney at his murder trial two-and-a-half years ago, in which Jackson was convicted of beating a man to death.
But then his fortunes changed.
His brother worked with his aunt — also an attorney — to argue that his lead defense lawyer drank during breaks at his trial and hadn’t even reviewed surveillance video of the beating until after the trial was under way.
That won him a new trial and a chance to clear his name.
Now, Jackson’s fortunes have changed again. With his second trial on the horizon, he is without a lawyer.
A few months after helping him win his second trial in 2015, Jackson’s aunt, veteran criminal attorney Gwen Anderson, dropped off his case, claiming there was “absolutely no cooperation” between her and her nephews.
And in a bizarre series of events last month, his brother George Jackson — a former federal prosecutor — was thrown off his case and fined $500 for contempt of court. George Jackson filed a pair of motions that accused Judge James Linn, the jurist presiding over his brother’s case, of colluding with prosecutors and referring to the Cook County criminal courthouse as a “puss-filled (sic) cyst of dishonesty.”
Jackson’s behavior, and the allegations in the motions, were highly unusual, even in a courthouse known for its share of colorful characters and cases that expose the dark side of human nature.
And since then, the case has gotten even weirder.
Allegations of corruption and unruly defendants are nothing new at the Leighton courthouse. But the florid language of the recent Jackson court filings stands out.
In one motion, George Jackson wrote an allegorical tale of fictional child rapist and drug dealer named Guy “Meatman” Black and liberal white Judge Lloyd “Let ‘Em Go” Lawrence.
Most of the 14-page motion is a hypothetical scenario in which the fictional prosecutors and judge conspire to convict Meatman in back-room conversations. The brief also seeks to have the court launch an investigation of the real-life Judge Linn and the state’s attorney’s office.
“Guy viciously, brutally and with the aid of enhancements, raped the daughter repeatedly and to the point of limp exhaustion,” George Jackson wrote at the start of a page-long description of the two vicious assaults by the make-believe “Meatman.”
One veteran defense attorney couldn’t believe it.
“I would call it ‘mondo bizarro,’” said Joe “The Shark” Lopez, who read Jackson’s Meatman fable. “It reads more like a storybook than something you would file in court.”
In the other motion George Jackson filed seeking to have Linn removed from the case, he claimed he had been “traumatized” when Linn criticized his lawyering in open court, and when Linn suggested there was “something wrong” with George Jackson during a May 1 court date.
A week later, George Jackson said he overheard Linn discussing “DNA” evidence with Eric Sussman, a top deputy to State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. Linn, George Jackson said, shooed him out of his chambers, telling Jackson to “get your paranoid self out of my office.”
Though he couldn’t tell what case Linn and Sussman were discussing, George Jackson insisted the conversations were improper.
Sussman on Thursday told the Chicago Sun-Times that he and Linn had been discussing a closed case. Linn declined to comment.
Judge Dennis Porter, assigned to review the Jackson filings, dismissed both motions and stuck Jackson with the $500 fine. In his contempt order, Porter said the motions “are filled with scurrilous, frivolous and defamatory personal attacks” and “are replete with irrelevant and unfounded allegations.”
At a court hearing on May 24, Porter was more blunt. “It’s not what you said,” Porter said, looking down from the bench at the brothers Jackson. “It’s how you said it.”
In his contempt order, Porter took issue mainly with less fantastical portions of Jackson’s motion, such as when the lawyer called Linn a “clone-like” facsimile of “the Jack Nicholson character, Colonel Nathan Jessup,” in the movie “A Few Good Men.”
In court, George Jackson said the contempt judgment from Porter was his first in more than 30 years practicing law.
In an email to the Sun-Times, George Jackson wrote that he “must proceed with caution and restraint as opposed to being reactive to obvious injustices.
“I promise you that at some point I will share with you in exhausting detail the reality of ALL that has transpired in this case. . . . I have been overwhelmed by what I have witnessed and experienced personally.”
Anthony Jackson’s plight
Anthony Jackson, a middle-aged single father of five and DePaul student, was charged with murder after a brawl on the 43rd Street Green Line platform in 2013. Prosecutors say he beat 37-year-old Sanchez Mixon to death. He’d asked his brother to assist with his case at trial in 2015 in large part to keep an eye on the lead attorney, records show.
Anthony Jackson’s defense had been that he beat Mixon only after Mixon tried to rob him. Video showed Anthony Jackson stomping on Mixon’s head with both feet, as witnesses called 911.
The jury found Anthony Jackson guilty. But after being presented with the allegations of incompetence by his lead attorney, the trial judge, Stanley Sacks, granted Anthony Jackson a new trial.
Two years later, no date for that second trial has been set.
When Anthony Jackson returned to Judge Linn’s courtroom two weeks ago, he insisted he wanted to act as his own attorney, shouting over Linn’s pleas that he at least discuss his case with a public defender.
The hearing ended with sheriff’s deputies shoving Anthony Jackson from in front of the judge.
“You gonna run me out of the courthouse?” he shouted, craning his neck as the deputies moved him toward the swinging door behind Linn’s bench.
Passing through the swinging door, Jackson stumbled, letting out a wail. The door swung open and shut during the several minutes it took for Linn to hear out the rest of his docket.
Jackson could be seen at intervals, still shackled, laying on his side, then flat on his back. Eventually, he rose and walked to the lockup, refusing all help.