Share the article: Madigan Machine Judge Mary Kay O’Brien Overturned Murders, Drug Trafficking, Sex Crimes, and Other Violent Criminal Convictions

Judge Mary Kay O’Brien’s deep ties to the Madigan Machine are well known. O’Brien was appointed as an Appellate Court Justice during her final year in the Illinois General Assembly after voting with Madigan 93.6% of the time. O’Brien also “Helped Madigan Regain The Speakership,” and received over $200,000 in political contributions from political groups led by Madigan over the course of her career. In addition to her ties to the indicted former party boss, O’Brien’s record on the bench is even more concerning. 

As an Appellate Justice, O’Brien has overturned the convictions of some of Illinois’ most heinous and violent criminals and has a history of coddling criminals while turning her back on local law enforcement.

For example, in 2013, Jesus Zambrano was convicted of murder for his role in the Joliet murder where the “victim was shot in the head inside a third-floor apartment at the Larkin Village apartment complex during an apparent lover’s triangle”. Zambrano was arrested while attempting to flee to Mexico, and would later appeal his conviction on the grounds that he received “ineffective assistance of counsel”. In 2016 O’Brien’s court granted his appeal and ordered a retrial for Zambrano. He was later found not-guilty and released. In 2021, Zambrano was once again arrested, this time for shooting a man in the groin during an altercation.

All told, O’Brien has overturned many serious criminal convictions, including murder convictions and numerous robbery, drug, and sexual assault convictions.

“Madigan Machine Judge Mary K. O’Brien has a history of using the courtroom to coddle criminals. As Illinois grapples with the impending elimination of cash bail on January 1st, 2023, the last thing Illinois families need is a soft-on-crime judge on our state’s highest court. O’Brien might say nice things on television, but she has been a card-carrying member of the Madigan Machine who’s spent her judicial career putting criminals before crime victims and the safety of our communities,” said Illinois Republican Party Executive Director Shaun McCabe.


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