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Alvarez questions

Tuesday, Dec 4, 2012

* Near the end of Mark Brown’s excellent column on the indictment of Mayor Daley’s nephew Richard Vanecko in the 2004 death of David Koschman is this

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez —­ who was a top deputy to her predecessor, Dick Devine, when the original decision was made to give Vanecko a pass — fought to prevent the appointment of a special prosecutor by denigrating the evidence against him. That was a mistake.

Alvarez was Devine’s chief of staff.

* Here’s what Alvarez said when she fought an appointment of a special prosecutor

“I don’t see any evidence — despite the theories of the journalists who are writing about this case — of a grand conspiracy here either by the police or any prosecutor.”

But Cook County Circuit Judge Michael P. Toomin cited missing records in both the police and prosecutors’ files and the “fiction of self-defense… conjured up by police and prosecutors” when he decided to appoint a special prosecutor. For example

Questions remain as to how the file for the Koschman case, in which David Koschman was killed by a punch thrown by Daley relative Richerd “R.J.” Vanecko seven years ago, disappeared from the State’s Attorney’s office when it was headed by Alvarez’s former boss and mentor, Dick Devine.

* This is Alvarez’s current explanation for blocking an inspector general’s investigation of her office

The Sun-Times reported back in March that Alvarez blocked a county inspector from investigating how her office handled the case and why paperwork in the case went missing. Her press secretary cited “protocol” as the reason the request was blocked.

Alvarez now says she commissioned Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson. “Now I’m free to say, which I was not able to say eight months ago, was that we opened up a grand jury investigating this case.”

* But that wasn’t what she said when she sent the case to the Illinois State Police

[Alvarez] said her office can’t examine the police investigation because her staff has been involved from the start, determining in 2004 there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Vanecko.

* The timing of her State Police decision looked suspect from the start

Days before Alvarez sought the State Police investigation, City of Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson had begun a separate probe of Koschman’s death and the way police handled it.

The day after Alvarez asked the State Police to investigate, her chief deputy, Hiram Grau, was appointed State Police director, effective April 11. Grau had been a Chicago Police deputy superintendent who supervised detectives at the time Koschman died.

The state cops eventually said they wouldn’t investigate.

* And then there was this

A Cook County judge ruled Wednesday that State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez must turn over transcripts of six witness interviews related to the investigation of the 2004 death of David Koschman to attorneys representing Koschman’s mother, Nanci.

Alvarez has long contended turning over the interview transcripts would “would disrupt the ongoing criminal investigation” by her office and the office of City Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, “and further undermine an already-dim prospect of any future criminal prosecution.”

In his ruling, Judge Michael P. Toomin, said since Alvarez quoted the interviews in a court filing where she objected to having a special prosecutor in the Koschman case, he disagreed with her position. The Sun-Times reports Alvarez has turned over those transcripts to Ferguson’s office. Nanci Koschman’s lawyers said they need to review the transcripts to respond to Alvarez’s objections to a special prosecutor.

* But this is the same Anita Alvarez who went way overboard when she prosecuted a defense lawyer for a common act

A lawyer on trial on charges she let a suspect in the slaying of a Chicago police officer use her cell phone in an interrogation room testified today she had no intention of obstructing the investigation and didn’t know it was against the law to bring the phone with her. […]

Vuckovic’s attorney, Leonard Goodman, told jurors no signs were posted at the headquarters prohibiting cellphones in the interrogation room.

The charges sparked controversy among criminal-defense lawyers who said they routinely bring their cellphones into police interview rooms and sometimes let clients make calls. Some veteran attorneys said they could not remember a similar case ever being pursued by police.

Vuckovic was eventually found not guilty.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


24 Comments
  1. - OneMan - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 10:59 am:

    I think this may turn out very interesting when all is said and done…


  2. - Loop Lady - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 11:02 am:

    This case was mishandled from the start. Folks in charge of investigating/positions of authority were wary of the severity of the alleged crime, the family the perp was part of etc. Unfortunately, nothing will bring the victim back.
    Mr. Vanecko has had eight years to think about what happened that night, and now his uncle is in the private sector. An eye for an eye? Stay tuned…


  3. - Skeeter - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 11:05 am:

    Serious questions about Alvarez have been around for a few years now.

    The GOP actually had a decent candidate to run against her, but the Cook County GOP is so weak that no real campaign was run.

    If we had a functioning two party system in Cook County, Alvarez would have lost.

    Recruiting decent candidates is one thing. The party needs to back them. They need a real organization.


  4. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 11:12 am:

    Anita Alvarez has been an enormous disappointment. Rather than a progressive reformer, she has been the worst kind of old guard hack. Decision after decision - when she has had a choice, she’s chosen to dig deep trenches and defend the indefensible (like the anti-eavesdropping on cops law).

    I want my vote back.


  5. - Loop Lady - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 11:13 am:

    Skeeter is right. This case will help undermine the public confidence in Alvarez. The powers that be in Cook County have had her in their crosshairs for awhile…


  6. - Wensicia - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 11:35 am:

    She should be charged with obstruction of justice.


  7. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 11:35 am:

    Incredibly frustrating to read that chain of events.

    Files missing, her chief deputy “coincidentally” being transferred to the state police just before quashing their investigation, etc.

    Disturbing.


  8. - L Y O - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 11:35 am:

    “The powers that be in Cook County have had her in their crosshairs for awhile…”

    Um, who?


  9. - Rudykzooti - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 11:48 am:

    I did not vote for her, and will not ever, is there someone out there that will challenge her please?


  10. - Fire Anita Alvarez - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 12:02 pm:

    Anita, you’re not fooling anyone!


  11. - Cheryl44 - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 12:02 pm:

    Can’t we just fire her?


  12. - Lincoln Parker - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 12:03 pm:

    ===The powers that be in Cook County have had her in their crosshairs for awhile…===

    That’d be nice if it were the case, but she was just reelected with no competition in the primary or general.


  13. - MrJM - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 12:51 pm:

    Dear Legitimate Cook County Attorneys,

    Please, please, please consider running as a Republican candidate for Cook County State’s Attorney to replace Ms. Alvarez.

    Thank you,
    – MrJM


  14. - MrJM - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 12:54 pm:

    Dear Future U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois,

    Please closely examine the role of the Cook County State’s Attorney in this homicide cover-up.

    Thank you,
    – MrJM


  15. - Boone Logan Square - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 1:05 pm:

    Readers of this blog can probably guess my voting affiliation. Let the record show that I voted against Alvarez in the 2012 general and will do so again if she is on the ballot next time around.


  16. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 1:22 pm:

    Well, another excellent Cabinet pick by Papa Squeezy.


  17. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 1:34 pm:

    –The powers that be in Cook County have had her in their crosshairs for awhile… –

    She was re-elected less than a month ago. What was the name of her GOP opponent?

    You know what one of the biggest big-foots in the Illinois GOP was doing, rather than pushing for the election of a GOP candidate?

    He was tuning up the Cook County taxpayers for about $600K, to date, as the special prosecutor in this case. Good work, if you can get.

    Seriously, how weird can it get here? Cook County Republicans can’t see a path to electing a state’s attorney?

    Is there some lack of big-money Republican lawyers in Cook County that I’ve missed?

    This Vanecko case has stunk to high-heaven from Day One. Maybe the Justice Department can get interested after they’re done cleaning out the West Side.


  18. - Crime Fighter - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 1:51 pm:

    While I haven’t followed the SA story details along the way, Alverez’s reported conduct here seems Dean Baueresque…

    It’s long past due for both state and county attorney’s to stop covering for the bad guys.


  19. - Quinn T. Sential - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 2:34 pm:

    “Now I’m free to say, which I was not able to say eight months ago, was that we opened up a grand jury investigating this case.”

    Carol Marin pretty much called this one for what it was last night on Chicago Tonight; BS.

    When was the Grand Jury empaneled?
    How many witnesses were called by the grand jury?
    How many witnesses testified before this grand jury?
    Did the grand jury issue any findings?
    When and why was the grand jury dissolved?

    Why is it that whenever I see her speak, I keep envisioning Anita Alvarez singing that Oscar Mayer Bologna song?


  20. - Independent - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 4:38 pm:

    I appreciate all the work the Sun-Times did to shed light on this rotten story, though I question their timing. Their first article in reviving this case was published when Daley was a lame duck and within a week after Emanuel won the election.

    Why did the S-T not pursue this case aggressively in the seven years between Koschman’s death and Daley’s decision not to run for re-election? Their timing was curious, to say the least, unless if I’m missing something.


  21. - park - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 7:54 pm:

    Cook County can do better than Anita.


  22. - Moe - Tuesday, Dec 4, 12 @ 8:09 pm:

    “Please, please, please consider running as a Republican candidate for Cook County State’s Attorney to replace Ms. Alvarez. ”

    Why? So we can have an anti-woman, pro-gun, anti minority extremist hold the position?

    Um….no. I’ll take my chances with Ms. Alvarez.


  23. - MrJM - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 1:24 am:

    I’ll take my chances with Ms. Alvarez.

    Such attitudes explain a great deal about the effectiveness of Cook County government.

    – MrJM


  24. - Casey - Wednesday, Dec 5, 12 @ 1:27 pm:

    Interesting that Carol Marin would chime in on this considering the softball, crying towel piece she wrote basically defending for Special Events Director and Daley family friend Megan McDonald, who quit her job after being interrogated by the Inspector General Ferguson for refusal to answer questions (e.g. Obstruction of Justice). The Inspector’s report said McDonald had better resign or else she would be fired with DO NOT HIRE/Resigned Under Inquiry on her personnel file. But Megan was protecting her good friend Nora Daley, whom they all were meeting for drinks, along with Venecko.


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