Judge recuses self from animal neglect case after receiving anonymous letter
By Lauren FitzPatrick Sun-Times Media email@example.com May 2, 2012 2:54PM
Dawn Hamill (left) leaves the Cook County Courthouse in Markham Wednesday, March 7, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 3, 2012 5:55AM
A Cook County Judge recused himself from a south suburban woman’s animal neglect case after receiving an anonymous letter about it.
Dawn Hamill faces misdemeanor charges alleging animal neglect at her animal refuge, Dazzle’s Painted Pastures, 5555 W. 175th St., stemming from a raid in February 2011.
While she was on trial in March, the star witness — a Cook County sheriff’s police investigator — was arrested on unrelated federal charges. Judge Christopher J. Donnelly then granted Hamill’s request for a mistrial and new proceedings in April.
Wednesday, Donnelly cited an anonymous letter written to him in recusing himself.
Hamill’s attorney, Purav Bhatt, said the letter, read aloud in court last month, urged the judge not to dismiss the cases against Hamill.
Hamill returns to court on May 24 before Judge Anna H. Demacopoulos. A new trial date has not yet been set.
She continues to run the animal rescue and sanctuary near Tinley Park, her attorney said.
Investigator Larry Draus, who testified at the trial in March about finding a dead cat, dead horse and puppies in an unheated garage at the shelter, faces federal extortion charges on allegations he and his son trafficked contraband cigarettes. He since has been suspended from the sheriff’s office.