The Quality of Mercy

49294342-16102739.jpgJust a few blocks from this
computer, Christopher Kelly’s funeral is taking place.  Of course, Rod and Patty are there, and
at this point, I can concede they are in a “no-win” spot- if they go, they will
draw public scrutiny; if they do not, they are not the “true, best friends” of
CK and his family.  What is without
contradiction is the sadness of this day for the Kelly family.  Ever incomprehensibly obtuse, Rod
expressed his condolences to the Kelly children- by name- over the weekend. 
They have a common surname. 
Why draw attention to their horrifying situation?  Teenagers do not need to carry the
mantle of adult problems.  Yet they


I do not know Christopher Kelly, and do not know his
family.  Kelly’s demons are well
documented: alcohol and gambling addictions are rarely the tools of
integrity.  He made some very
terrible choices in his desire to be rich and powerful, not the least of which
was his kinship with the governor. 
They seem to share a deadly excess of ambition.  Of course, only one of them is dead.


The house of cards they Mr. Kelly built was an easy mark for
the federal prosecutors.  Tax
evasion is a slam-dunk, and I am sure they believed that Kelly would flop when
faced with prison.  He did
not.  Nudge two was an indictment
for bid rigging, to which he entered a guilty plea last week.  He was still mum.  He would have reported to jail on
Friday.  He faced yet another
indictment for corruption charges, and prosecutors attempted to revoke his
bail, perhaps sensing that such a stubborn man would self-destruct in the
intervening week, thereby depriving them of testimony.   I guess they were right.  I am sure that this result is not what the prosecutors would
wish for, logistically or ethically. 
They will take inventory of their actions, I am sure.  “When does the ends justify the means?”
is an ongoing ethical debate in law enforcement, and I expect that there will
be moments of introspection in many corners.   


The federal government has a big job here in Illinois,
rooting out systemic corruption; it also has big tools at its disposal.  They have the ability to cast a wide
net, and squeeze friends, loved ones and business associates to get the
information they need.  There is
often collateral damage.  I shed no
tears for Christopher Kelly;  his
reach exceeded his grasp, and his desire for wealth and power condemned
him.  I DO pray for mercy and
deliverance for his friends and family. 
They have shared the imprint of the federal prosecutor’s vice; many of
them will never be the same.  If they
had criminal intentions, that is the cost of doing business. If they simply loved
this man, they are victims. 

 I hope that it doesn’t seem too corny for me to drop
in a quote, long ago memorized for my 9th grade teacher. Maybe this seed percolated under the surface and sent me to law school years later. After all, Portia was a female attorney, soliciting for her client.  Perhaps I never practiced because the world of crime and dishonesty is rarely compatible with the world of idealism and mercy.  I like living in the latter world.  

The quality of mercy is not strained. 
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven 
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: 
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. 
Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes 
The throned monarch better than his crown. 
His scepter shows the force of temporal power, 
The attribute to awe and majesty, 
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings. 
But mercy is above this sceptered sway; 
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings; 
It is an attribute of God himself; 
And earthly power doth then show like God’s 
When mercy seasons justice.


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