Oral arguments regarding the appointment of a special prosecutor in the nearly eight-year-old homicide case involving former Mayor Richard Daley's nephew will begin in early March, Judge Michael Toomin said Wednesday.
The ruling indicates that Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez's office is preparing to fight the call for an independent body to probe whether political favoritism played a role in the original investigation into David Koschman's death.
"They should have taken up the idea of a special prosecutor long ago. Instead of calling for one, Anita Alvarez is fighting against it, and we think that is very disappointing," said Attorney Flint Taylor with the People's Law Office.
Representatives from Alvarez's office declined to comment after court Wednesday.
Nanci Koschman and several others last month submitted a "friends of the court brief" asking for a fresh investigation into the 2004 incident. Her son died 12 days after being knocked to the ground during a drunken confrontation on Division Street in the early-morning hours of April 25, 2004.
His death was ruled a homicide but no one was ever charged.
Police, after taking another look at the case recently, said everyone was drunk that night and now believe Daley's nephew, Richard "R.J." Vanecko, threw the only punch.
"... had Vanecko not been a member of the powerful Daley family he would have been charged with the homicide. The handling of this matter by the Chicago Police and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office raises questions that cry out for objective, unbiased investigation," petitioners wrote last month.
“The major issue here is that there is a conflict in the States Attorney’s office. They were in charge of investigating a crime that we feel was not thoroughly investigated," said Alexa Van Brunt with the Northwestern University Law School.
Alvarez has strongly denied that family members played a role in how the case was handled. She asked the Illinois State Police on March 25 to take a look at the matter. But one day later, one of her subordinates was appointed by Gov. Pat Quinn to head that very organization.
The ISP initially said it would investigate then later recanted, a development that "surprised and disappointed" Alvarez. A spokeswoman said at the time that it would look for another law enforcement organization to review the case.
Chicago’s inspector general, Joseph Ferguson, is separately looking into how the case was handled by Chicago police.