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On day judge refuses to move trial, Derrick Smith passes bill

SPRINGFIELD — Fresh from learning that a judge refused to delay his bribery trial, indicted state Rep. Derrick Smith, D-Chicago on Wednesday successfully advanced a bill in the Illinois House — regarding sentencing.

The legislation, SB3267, amends the “Unified Code of Corrections” including to require that multiple terms of probation imposed at the same time shall run concurrently. As introduced, the bill sought to add educational requirements and family enrichment when an individual is serving out probation.

Smith faces trial next week in federal court on bribery allegations. On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman denied his bid to delay the trial so Smith could cast a “yes” vote in favor of contentious legislation that would make the state’s temporary income tax increase permanent.

Smith’s attorneys had asked Coleman to delay the trial so that he could cast a “yes” vote for the bill, which would make a 2011 tax increase permanent.

But an unimpressed Coleman said Smith’s attempts to delay the trial — which was already reset once in January — were “foreseeable.”

Unhappy that Smith failed to even show up in court Wednesday morning, she also wasn’t buying arguments Smith’s attorney Vic Henderson made about a back injury Smith sustained in a car accident last month.

Noting that Smith hadn’t complained about the injuries at several court hearings since the accident and was only bringing them up a week before the trial was due to start, she added that Smith “can stand, he can do whatever he needs to do to get through the trial.”

And she suggested that Smith’s back pain may have more to do with the stress of the allegations that he took a $7,000 cash bribe to support a grant application than any physical injury.

His symptoms “may even seem real to [him],” she added. “There’s a lot of angst … as you get close to trial.”

Outside court, Henderson said he had not received any request from House Speaker Mike Madigan to attempt to delay the trial.

When asked if Madigan asked Smith to do so, Henderson equivocated.

“I’m not Carnac the Magician [sic], I can’t tell you what’s in somebody else’s mind,” Henderson said.

Had Coleman agreed to the request, Madigan would have had valuable extra time, if he needs it, to round up the necessary votes to pass a tax-extension bill.

RELATED: Derrick Smith’s role in Madigan’s ranks

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The speaker is believed to be well-short of the necessary 60 votes he needs to send the legislation to the Senate.

The 2011 increase in individual and corporate income tax rates is set to roll back in January, creating a potential $4 billion hole in next year’s state budget.

Smith lost his re-election bid last March despite heavy support from Madigan’s political organization.

Earlier this week, Madigan acknowledged not having Smith in Springfield could impact his efforts to pass the income-tax extension he, Gov. Pat Quinn and other Democrats are seeking this spring. “It would be one less vote, one less vote,” said Madigan, who told reporters Monday that he was still “significantly away” from building a roll call with the necessary 60 House votes needed to pass the tax extension. Pressed on whether his task would be made harder without Smith, Madigan turned to a reporter and laughed off the question. Smith is a supporter of keeping Illinois’ 5-percent income tax, which is due to roll back to 3.75 percent on Jan. 1 without legislative intervention. Despite Smith’s deep legal troubles, Madigan attempted to prop him up in a losing March re-election bid. The speaker channeled more than $76,000 from political funds he controls into Smith’s losing campaign. Contributing: Natasha Korecki