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Special prosecutor billed Cook County nearly 50K for Van Dyke murder case

Thursday, October 18, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times
by Andy Grimm

Special prosecutor billed Cook County nearly 50K for Van Dyke murder case

Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon at a pretrial hearing in the Jason Van Dyke case | Nancy Stone/Pool/Chicago Tribune

Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon at a pretrial hearing in the Jason Van Dyke case | Nancy Stone/Pool/Chicago Tribune


Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon has billed Cook County for nearly $50,000 for expenses from his more than two years handling Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke’s murder case.

McMahon, the state’s attorney for Kane County, has submitted invoices for expert witnesses who testified at pre-trial hearings and during the trial, a few meals, snacks and the prosecution team’s stay at a hotel hear Midway Airport.

All told, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has received bills or paid out directly more than $18,000. Records from McMahon’s office also show a pair of invoices totaling $31,600 that have been submitted, for a report on public attitudes toward Van Dyke’s case by the research firm the Halvorsen Group.

Van Dyke’s lawyers tried repeatedly to have the trial moved out of Cook County.

Van Dyke was convicted earlier this month of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated battery for the 2014 fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

It was the first time a Chicago police officer had been found guilty of murder for an on-duty shooting since the 1960s.

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McMahon was appointed to prosecute the case in 2016, after then-Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez opted to turn the case over to a special prosecutor.

Under state law governing special prosecutors, McMahon can bill Cook County only for expenses related to the trial –– not for the time he or his staff spent working on the case.

Urey Patrick, a retired FBI agent who testified as an expert on police use of force, billed $6,756 to analyze video of the shooting and testify during the trial.

The trial team’s hotel stay during the trial, at a the Midway Marriott, cost Cook County $6,500. Transcripts of testimony cost another $4,700.

McMahon has been criticized by his political nemesis, Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen, who this month dropped an effort demanding an accounting of expenses for Kane County staff time and to seek reimbursement from Cook County.

Lauzen had estimated the staff time might have been worth $1.5 million, though McMahon pointed out that the state law that created the cooperative agreements among counties do not allow Kane County to collect payment for staff time.

McMahon has said that his prosecutors were able to maintain their caseload up until the three weeks they spent trying the case, with other attorneys in the office picking up the slack.


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