Lawyers for Jesse Jackson Jr. on Wednesday said they’ll fight to keep his divorce case in Illinois, arguing Sandi Jackson committed “acts” in the state that gave rise to their divorce action.
The accusations appear to set the stage for what may become a contentious divorce proceeding between the onetime political rising stars.
The former congressman and alderman are embroiled in a dual-state divorce case — appearing first in a Washington, D.C., courtroom on Tuesday. On Wednesday, they did not appear for a status hearing at the Daley Center.
But their attorneys agreed to a March 8 status hearing in Chicago and also to begin discovery and depositions regarding Jackson Jr.’s push to keep the case in Illinois. His lawyer is arguing both subject jurisdiction — meaning Jackson Jr.’s ties to Illinois — and personal jurisdiction — alleged “acts” that happened in the state that gave rise to the divorce.
But court documents filed by Sandi Jackson argue the case should be dismissed in Illinois and proceed in D.C., where she said her children are living and have attended school since kindergarten. Sandi Jackson also argues both have their probation officers and criminal defense attorneys in D.C., and that they both filed federal taxes there. The filing also states that both have their mail directed to their D.C. home, including bills on their Chicago home.
The documents also reveal Sandi Jackson was served initial paperwork regarding the divorce case on Aug. 11 while incarcerated at a federal women’s prison in Alderson, West Virginia.
Outside the courtroom, Jackson Jr.’s attorney, Brendan Hammer, said he is fighting to keep the case in Illinois, based on “acts” Sandi Jackson committed while they were under investigation by the feds and he was in prison.
“We’ve also alleged that she committed certain acts in the state of Illinois that gave rise to a cause of action for the divorce, and so the jurisdiction is appropriate,” Hammer said, adding Jackson Jr. is a lifelong Illinois resident, still votes in the state and has an Illinois driver’s license.
Hammer declined to describe the “acts.”
“I’m not alleging anything other than acts. Those could be from the benign, to the sublime, to the malign, but they are what they are and they’ll be addressed in the hearing,” Hammer said.
When asked about Jackson Jr.’s health, Hammer said he believed he was doing “fine.” Jackson Jr. previously has been treated for depression. Hammer said he is residing in his South Side home; the Jackson children are currently living with Sandi Jackson in Washington.
Hammer confirmed Jackson Jr. had subpoenaed text messages, calls and emails from his estranged wife.
Sandi Jackson’s attorney, Jessica Bank Interlandi, did not respond to questions, saying only the sides had entered into an agreed order.
Jackson Jr., 51, filed a certificate of dissolution of marriage in Cook County in December. Citing “irreconcilable differences” with his wife, he began the proceedings to divorce in Cook County in July, as Sandi Jackson was wrapping up a prison term she completed in October.
Sandi Jackson, 53, filed a divorce petition in Washington D.C. in November. Jackson is seeking full custody of their two children, ages 13 and 16, as well as child support and alimony. Jackson Jr. is also seeking to have the children live with him.
Sandi and Jesse Jackson both pleaded guilty in August 2013 to various schemes relating to the looting of his congressional campaign fund. The former South Side 7th Ward alderman and the former 2nd Congressional District lawmaker each went to prison for diverting $750,000 from campaign funds for their personal use between 2005 and 2012.
The former congressman pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit false statements and mail and wire fraud; his wife to filing a false federal income tax return.
The two were married on June 1, 1991.