Attorneys for NBC5 and the Chicago Sun-Times have filed a request to remove the seal on the grand jury report regarding the death of David Koschman. Special Prosecutor Dan Webb asked in September that his 17-month grand jury probe be sealed. Presiding Judge Michael Toomin agreed.
Former mayor Richard M. Daley’s nephew---R.J. Vanecko---is the only one charged in the 2004 death. But many questions remain about what police and prosecutors did or did not do.
The Motion to Intervene was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County.
In the Motion attorneys for NBC and the Sun-Times state, “the Special Prosecutor himself acknowledges that ‘there is a strong public interest that supports immediate release of the report.’”
Webb was appointed in 2012 to investigate the death of Koschman who died in 2004 following an argument outside the bars on Division Street, and whether or not police or members of the State’s Attorney’s Office intentionally acted to impede the prior investigation.
Neither police nor prosecutors brought charges in 2004 or when the case was reinvestigated in 2011, following questions raised by the Sun-Times and NBC5.
Webb was brought in to investigate in April 2012. R.J.Vanecko was indicted, in late 2012, on a single charge of involuntary manslaughter.
In a September written statement Webb said no additional charges would be brought because the statute of limitations had run on any possible wrongdoing in 2004. And that there was “insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt any state criminal law violations” by members of the Chicago Police Department in 2011.
Webb’s final report detailing the investigation was filed with the court on Sept. 19.
In asking the court to seal the report Webb argued its contents might be prejudicial to Vanecko’s trial set for February.
Attorneys for Koschman’s mother---Nanci---said in September Webb’s sealed report left questions unanswered.
“We need to know who called whom when. We need to know the facts and circumstances that resulted in a bogus investigation,” said Locke Bowman, an attorney with the MacArthur Justice Center.
“We want to find out whether a code of silence maintained itself within the state’s attorney’s office and within the police department,” added Flint Taylor, an attorney with the People’s Law Office. Both represent Nanci Koschman.
Attorneys for NBC5 and the Sun-Times argue the public was not given the required notice or time to object and there was no compelling reason to seal the report.
Adding “Unsealing the Report would dispel rumors and speculation that could easily prove more prejudicial than the actual facts.”
Nanci Koschman said she understood the reason for the seal, but added: “I respect Judge Toomin saying let’s seal it until after the trial. But there’s a part of me like, could you just send me the first four pages so I can put my head down at night and know I couldn’t have made a change,” she said.