McHenry County judge selected to preside over Vanecko case
BY CHRIS FUSCO AND TIM NOVAK Staff Reporters January 4, 2013 2:18PM
Judge Maureen P. McIntyre
Updated: February 6, 2013 6:09AM
A McHenry County judge who handles a wide variety of juvenile matters will preside over the involuntary-manslaughter case of Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko, the nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley, accused in the death of David Koschman on Chicago’s Near North Side.
Judge Maureen P. McIntyre was assigned the case Friday by McHenry County Chief Judge Michael J. Sullivan following an order last month from the Illinois Supreme Court that no Cook County judge should be involved in the case because many have political ties to the Daley family.
McIntyre, a Republican from Barrington Hills, has no known connections to the Daleys.
She has been a judge since 1997, when she stopped practicing law with her husband, Raymond X. Henehan, her former classmate at the IIT-Kent Chicago College of Law.
Henehan no longer practices law. The Supreme Court disbarred him in 2009 for misappropriating nearly $100,000 from two clients while neglecting another client’s bankruptcy, records show.
McIntyre and Henehan could not be reached for comment.
Although the McHenry County judge will preside over Vanecko’s case, all court proceedings will occur in Cook County, according to James “Dan” Wallis, McHenry County court administrator. No court dates have been set.
The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Vanecko is accused of striking the 5-foot-5, 125-pound Koschman during a drunken encounter on Division Street west of Dearborn around 3:15 a.m. on April 25, 2004.
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, then 29, ran away with a friend.
Eight years ago, police said they couldn’t determine who struck Koschman, and the Cook County state’s attorney’s office declined charges. The case remained dormant until two years ago, when the Chicago Sun-Times asked to review case files.
The Chicago Police Department reinvestigated at that time and concluded Vanecko punched Koschman in self-defense even though Vanecko has never spoken to police.
But a Sun-Times investigation uncovered numerous problems with the way police and prosecutors handled the case, prompting Koschman’s mother, Nanci Koschman, to seek the appointment of a special prosecutor. Cook County Judge Michael P. Toomin granted her request, appointing former U.S. Attorney Dan K. Webb last April to reopen the case.
A Cook County grand jury indicted Vanecko, 38, of Costa Mesa, Calif., on Dec. 3 — the case that’s been assigned to McIntyre.
Meanwhile, Toomin is still presiding over Webb’s ongoing investigation to find out why the police and state’s attorney’s office didn’t charge Vanecko in 2004 or last year.
McIntyre, 65, earned a bacherlor’s degree from Fordham University in New York City. She and her husband graduated from Kent law school in 1976.
After law school, she worked for the law firm of Pretzel Stouffer Nolan & Rooney in the Loop. A few years later, she and her husband opened their own practice, Henehan & McIntyre, in Cary. They have four children.
She left the firm in 1997, when she was appointed an associate judge. She was elected a circuit judge in 2000. Voters in the 22nd Judicial Circuit retained her last November.
According to the McHenry County courts website, she handles juvenile cases, including criminal matters involving young people. She also has served as a special-assignment judge, hearing cases in all areas of law.
“I have a reputation for honest and impartial rulings in the cases before me,” McIntyre told the Daily Herald in 2000, the year she was elected.
She was part of an unusual case in 2004, when a state prisoner sent her letters threatening to kill her and her family unless she helped free him. She ended up testifying against him, and he remains in prison.
Brian Stevens, a 20-year McHenry County attorney who does mostly criminal cases, described McIntyre as “very good at letting people have their day in court.
“She has done a lot of juvenile cases that involve felony matters,” Stevens added. “She is good, knowledgeable, and thorough . . . very considerate. She would never hold it against someone if they chose to go to trial” rather than plead.
McIntyre is a tough-minded judge who won’t be distracted by political issues outside the courtroom or intense media coverage, says one attorney who has appeared in her McHenry County courtroom.
“She goes by the book,” said attorney Harry Semrow, a former Cook County prosecutor who now has a private practice in McHenry. “She knows the law. She follows the law.”
And McIntyre isn’t likely to let the proceedings get out of hand, despite the presence of the high-powered attorneys involved in the case, according to Semrow.
“She runs a tight ship,” he said, adding, “she’s a pretty strong-willed person herself.”
Contributing: Carol Marin, Dan Rozek