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Raoul, special prosecutor meet to discuss Van Dyke sentence

Tuesday, Feb 5, 2019

* Background is here if you need it. From WBEZ

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon had what they say was a “productive” phone call on Monday about possibilities for challenging the sentence of Jason Van Dyke, the former Chicago police officer convicted of murder in Laquan McDonald’s killing.

The sentence, handed down last month, would allow Van Dyke’s release from prison in as few as three years. Police accountability advocates have characterized that penalty as far too lenient.

Raoul and McMahon “are both continuing their review and will make a decision on next steps once they have finished their review,” the attorney general’s spokeswoman Annie Thompson said after the call.

Chris Nelson, a McMahon spokesman, said the call lasted 45 minutes and was the first conversation about the case between the attorney general and special prosecutor.

An option previously raised by McMahon is asking the Illinois Supreme Court to overturn the sentencing.

* Sun-Times

“This is part of the process to decide whether to go forward with a challenge to the sentence,” [McMahon’s spokesman] Christopher Nelson said.

McMahon has said he plans to decide by March 1 on whether to petition the state Supreme Court to file a writ of mandamus, which is an order that would send the case back to Gaughan for a new, likely longer, prison sentence.

Civil rights activists and Laquan McDonald’s family have called for a harsher sentence for Van Dyke, who was convicted in the teen’s death in early October. Van Dyke could be released in fewer than four years with credit for good behavior. Raoul, a former state senator from Chicago who was sworn in days before the sentencing hearing, had said his office was reviewing whether state law mandated a stiffer sentence for Van Dyke.

Nelson said McMahon, who is the state’s attorney for Kane County, had called for Monday’s conference call.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

10 Comments »
  1. - wondering - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 11:12 am:

    I caught McMahon on WTTW at 7 last night. He is impressive, very impressive. His circumspection come across as exactly that, not dodging. He doesn’t say what he doesn’t know. He leavens the opinions he does express with humility. He said this has been an eye opener. I hope we hear more from him.


  2. - Sue - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 11:23 am:

    McMahon came across on WTTW last night as a very thoughtful sincere official not anxious to muck up his conviction by filing a political appeal. Hopefully he convinces our new AG who is hardly a well respected attorney and one with little actual criminal trial experience


  3. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 11:24 am:

    ===not anxious to muck up his conviction by filing a political appeal===

    Horse hockey.


  4. - the Edge - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 11:30 am:

    When a judge takes the side of one lone dissenting Supreme it seems reasonable to appeal to the other Supremes for clarification on state sentencing guidelines.


  5. - West Side the Best Side - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 11:46 am:

    As Mr. McMahon pointed out last night, even if the Supreme Court granted the mandamus, they would likely limit themselves to ordering the trial court to enter a sentence in the Agg Batt Firearm count, not order a specific sentence. Judge Gaughan could enter a 6 year sentence, which would require more time at 85%, but which would drive people crazy because it looks like less time. He also alluded to the possibility that the Court could raise other issues, presumably whether the change of venue motion should have been granted, which if allowed, would start things from scratch. And yes, if the AG gets involved in this case, considering the tens of thousands of local county criminal cases it doesn’t get involved in, it would be political. There was a perfectly competent prosecutor handling the case at the trial court level and, while there is nothing wrong with the consultation between the two, it would be very out of the ordinary if the AG initiates the filing of a mandamus petition.


  6. - the Patriot - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:01 pm:

    Time for the AG to have an adult conversation about the big picture. He wants to end violence in Chicago, but wants to discourage police from going to neighborhood where they are likely to be required to use force.

    There are bad apples and there is no defending that. But policy decisions that are going to make it impossible to prevent 500 shootings next year so you can make an example of one bad officer are counter productive.


  7. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:02 pm:

    ===wants to discourage police===

    Again… Horse hockey.


  8. - PC - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:08 pm:

    The AG is going to be getting involved in this issue one way or another. There are at least two prisoners and likely many more in identical circumstances to Van Dyke who are serving longer sentences based on the majority opinion in Lee. If the AG does nothing here, thus signaling its agreement with the dissenting opinion in Lee, the AG will probably end up defending against a mandamus petition filed by one of them. Is the AG going to respond by saying that it chose to let Van Dyke serve an illegally low sentence? Good luck with that.


  9. - JoanP - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 2:55 pm:

    =they would likely limit themselves to ordering the trial court to enter a sentence in the Agg Batt Firearm count, not order a specific sentence. =

    Except that there are *sixteen* Agg Batt counts, and there’s an issue of whether or not they should run consecutively.

    The court could also send this to another judge, which I have known them to do.

    =the Court could raise other issues, presumably whether the change of venue motion should have been granted=

    They *could*, but it’s pretty unlikely. They tend to avoid ruling on issues that are not raised by the parties.


  10. - West Side the Best Side - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 5:07 pm:

    JoanP - You are right about the Court being unlikely to raise other issues, especially in a mandamus case where the petition here is to order the judge to follow case law. Sometimes appellate level courts do find issues on their own they want the parties to address that neither side had raised on appeal, it is rare but not unheard of. As far as the 16 Agg Batt counts, there is the “One Act - One Crime” doctrine that will come into play. “We hold, therefore, that when more than one offense arises from a series of incidental or closely related acts and the offenses are not, by definition, lesser included offenses, convictions with concurrent sentences can be entered.” People v. King, 66 Ill. 551, 556 (1977), which was followed in the 2009 case of People v. Artis. It would be hard to argue those shots were not all closely related acts. That determination is one that would have to be made on a case by case basis, thus a discretionary decision by the trial court, rather than a mandamus argument that following case law is mandatory. Not knowing what the possible mandamus petition, which is by its nature a petition seeking to force a public official to perform a mandated duty, is going to raise, it’s all conjecture on all our parts at this point.


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