BGA Files Amicus Brief in David Koschman Case

BGA supports the appointment of a special prosecutor to look into 2004 death, and how authorities handled the ensuing investigation.

 

CHICAGO, Jan. 5, 2012—The Better Government Association today filed a court document formally supporting the appointment of an independent "special prosecutor" to investigate the death of a Mount Prospect man nearly eight years ago, allegedly at the hands of a nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley.

The BGA’s amicus brief provides support for a petition filed Dec. 14 by the mother, aunt and uncle of the dead man, David Koschman. Their petition asked Cook County Criminal Courts Presiding Judge Paul P. Biebel Jr. to appoint a lawyer from outside the Cook County state’s attorney’s office to investigate Koschman’s death and determine whether the now-closed criminal inquiry by Chicago police and the state’s attorney’s office was done fairly and objectively.

Although authorities concluded that Daley’s then-29-year-old nephew, Richard J. Vanecko, punched the 21-year-old Koschman in a drunken encounter on Division Street on April 25, 2004, and that the punch led to Koschman’s death, nobody has been charged with a crime.

Over the past year, serious questions have arisen about the way Chicago police and Cook County prosecutors handled the case. A variety of alleged irregularities surfaced – largely through news reports in the Chicago Sun-Times – including disclosures that:

  • Police and prosecutorial files went missing;
  • Witnesses say police reports misrepresented what they relayed to investigators;
  • Detectives were less than aggressive in pursuing certain leads and interviewing key people, including Vanecko.

The Koschman petition – filed on behalf of the dead man’s family by lawyers from the Northwestern University School of Law’s Roderick MacArthur Justice Center and the People’s Law Office in Chicago – raised questions about whether investigators showed favoritism toward Vanecko and otherwise acted improperly so that he did not face criminal charges.

The BGA is not party to that petition (which has been transferred from Biebel to Cook County Judge Michael P. Toomin for consideration) and is not taking a position on the factual allegations raised in the document.

However, the BGA supports the overall goal: that an independent investigator be appointed to take an unbiased look at this case to determine whether there was misconduct among law enforcement, and whether criminal charges are warranted.

To that end, the BGA’s "friend of the court" brief was filed today in Cook County Circuit Court. Veteran Chicago attorney Thomas H. Geoghegan is representing the BGA pro bono on this matter.

BGA President and CEO Andy Shaw emphasized that the BGA is not demanding criminal charges. "We’re filing this document to make sure David Koschman’s homicide is investigated in an objective, fair way, because we’re not sure that occurred during the initial investigations by Chicago Police and county prosecutors," Shaw said.

A copy of the amicus brief will be posted here, and available below.

The Better Government Association is a Chicago-based non-profit, non-partisan watchdog group that works for integrity, transparency and accountability in government by exposing corruption and inefficiency; identifying and advocating effective public policy; and engaging and mobilizing the electorate to achieve authentic and responsible reform.

BGA contacts:
Andy Shaw (312) 520-4999
Robert Herguth (312) 821-9030