A judge who handles juvenile cases in McHenry County was selected Friday to preside over the Cook County involuntary-manslaughter case against Richard J. "R.J." Vanecko, a nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley.
Maureen P. McIntyre, 65, was selected by Michael J. Sullivan, McHenry County's chief judge, following a Dec. 21 order from the Illinois Supreme Court that a judge from outside Cook County be brought in to handle the politically charged case, the Sun-Times is reporting.
Vanecko, 38, of Costa Mesa, Calif., was indicted Dec. 3 by a special Cook County grand jury that accused him of knocking David Koschman to the ground in the Rush Street nightlife district more than eight years ago, leading to his death.
McIntyre, a Republican, was appointed associate judge in 1997, elected a circuit judge in 2000 and retained last year. According to the McHenry County courts website, she handles juvenile cases. But she has also served as a special-assignment judge, hearing cases in all areas of law, including criminal.
Lawyers who responded to an Illinois State Bar Association judicial-ratings survey recommended that McIntyre be retained last year. On a scale of 100, she scored 91.5 points when it came to meeting the requirements of her judicial office.
The Vanecko case had been randomly assigned to Cook County Associate Judge Arthur F. Hill Jr., who stepped aside Dec. 17 because he once worked for Daley when Daley was Cook County state's attorney. Hill also had been a Daley appointee to the Chicago Transit Authority board.
After Hill bowed out, Stephen J. Senderowitz, an attorney with special prosecutor Dan K. Webb, argued it would be difficult to find a judge in Cook County who doesn't have ties to Daley or the state's attorney's office. In a Dec. 21 order, the Illinois Supreme Court said "the public necessity so requires" that an outside judge preside over the case.
Besides prosecuting Vanecko, Webb and attorneys from his law firm, Winston & Strawn, are moving at "a vigorous pace" to figure out why the state's attorney's office didn't charge Vanecko in 2004 or last year, when a Sun-Times investigation prompted Chicago Police to re-examine the case.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Vanecko is accused of striking the 5-foot-5, 125-pound Koschman during a drunken encounter on Division west of Dearborn around 3:15 a.m. on April 25, 2004. Vanecko, then 29, ran away with a friend. Koschman, 21, of Mount Prospect, fell, cracked his head and died 11 days later of brain injuries from when the back of his head struck the pavement.
Vanecko never was interviewed by police, who concluded he punched Koschman in self-defense even though Koschman's four friends and a bystander said Koschman wasn't being physically aggressive toward Vanecko or his three companions.
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