Editorial: Step aside, judge
Editorials March 11, 2013 6:06PM
Judge Maureen P. McIntyre
Updated: April 13, 2013 6:16AM
No need to wait for a third strike against Judge Maureen P. McIntyre.
Two should be enough to persuade her to step aside in the involuntary manslaughter case of former Mayor Richard M. Daley’s nephew, Richard J. Vanecko. He is charged in the 2004 death of David Koschman, who died after being punched by Vanecko outside a Division Street bar.
The McHenry County judge was assigned the case after Special Prosecutor Dan Webb successfully argued it should be heard by a judge from outside Cook County to avoid potential conflicts of interest. In other words: No Daley connections.
McIntyre does not cut it. For the sake of the case and hers — no need to subject a fine judge to continued intense scrutiny — she should ask the chief judge of McHenry County Circuit Court to replace her.
If the chief judge is out of options — there are only six more judges to chose from — the Illinois Supreme Court could move the case to another, bigger circuit.
Political and family connections are at the heart of the Vanecko case. Any questions about the judge’s impartiality are potentially damaging.
The first strike against McIntryre came after the Sun-Times reported questionable details about her personal life. She divorced her husband in 2006 in a deal that gave her most of the assets while many of her husband’s creditors were left out in the cold. This means the judge’s former husband, now a disbarred lawyer, hasn’t had to tap into those marital assets to pay back at least $500,000 owed to former clients and the IRS. Records show the couple still lives together.
Then on Monday the Sun-Times reported that her ex-husband has connections to the Democratic Party in Chicago going back to Mayor Richard J. Daley, Vanecko’s grandfather. Her former husband’s family held government patronage jobs for two generations.
These are not McIntyre’s connections — we are not suggesting she cannot be impartial. But the appearance of a potential conflict is there. Every person involved with this case, including Judge McIntyre, will be better off without that.