Thursday, November 14, 2013

Somebody's Somebody

It's been nine years since David Koschman was killed outside of a Chicago nightclub. The man who killed him has been free for those nine years, because he's somebody's somebody.

Richard Vanecko, who threw the punch that sent Mr. Koschman to the pavement where he struck his head, is the nephew of former mayor Richard M. Daley. That would make him the grandson of the previous mayor, Richard J. You can't get more connected than that.

Clout held the police at bay when it was time to investigate the incident that led to the death of a young man out celebrating with friends. Clout kept the facts from being revealed in court, so that the fault for the death could be assigned entirely to Mr. Koschman. Nobody said nothing about the disparity in size, that the mayor's nephew was built like a linebacker while the victim was short and skinny. The facts didn't matter because somebody's somebody never goes to jail.

The lack of justice is nothing new in Chicago. The murder case described in Jack O'Malley's THE KING OF THE IRISH was a case of injustice with strong political overtones. And like that 1889 incident, there were those who did not accept the verdict that came from influence and manipulation. After nine years, the Koschman family is finally getting some justice.

Investigative reporters could smell something bad about the way the initial investigation was handled, and they didn't stop making noise until a special prosecutor was appointed to look into things.

The police line up that made Richard Vanecko (2nd from left) look smaller
Dan Webb, who used to be the U.S. Attorney in the city, was given the task of conducting an investigation into what happened, a probe that required the granting of immunity to witnesses who would not much care to be prosecuted for perjury. The judge hearing the case has refused to release the report. Judge Michael Toomin fears that the Daley nephew would not get a fair trial if the potential jury pool was exposed to the facts contained in that document, so he won't let the public see what clout can do for somebody's somebody when he should have been charged with murder or manslaughter.

To no one's surprise, the police union wants the judge to seal that report for all times. So you know that there are cops who did what they are supposed to do, which is to protect those with clout because they'd get fired if they did not. They managed to manipulate the line up to confuse the witnesses, just like the cops did in 1889 when Daniel Coughlin was charged with murder. The union does not want the general public to know how easily the rank and file are manipulated by forces beyond their control, a situation the union bosses allow to flourish because that makes it easier to work out new contracts with plenty of nice benefits. Don't rock the boat and everybody gets a chance to wet their beak.

The Daleys are no longer running Chicago and they can't protect their family members like they used to. Judge Toomin wants to ensure that somebody's somebody gets a fair trial, same as anyone else, but that isn't likely no matter what he does.

The mess that Daley left behind is too fresh in people's minds. Unless Mr. Vanecko's attorneys can pluck carefully from the jury pool, it's likely that there will be a majority sitting in judgment who resent all that the Daley name represents. They'd see Mr. Vanecko hanged if it was possible, just to express their outrage at the clout and the protection and the favors that they are left to pay for.

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