Prosecutors have made a special request for a new judge in the involuntary manslaughter charges of a man who is the nephew of former Chicago mayor Richard Daley. The prosecution has requested a judge be brought in from outside of Cook County, where Mayor Daley has strong personal and political ties that could influence the criminal justice process.
The case has been surrounded by controversy since the death of the young man eight years ago. According to police reports, the incident involved an altercation between two groups of friends, ending in one man falling to the ground and hitting his head on the curb, eventually leading to his death.
Involuntary manslaughter charges are typically used by prosecutors when someone was acting recklessly or negligently in a way that is very likely to result in harm to another person and that reckless behavior caused a death.
Many of the other specifics of this case are still unknown but will become public during the trial. The defendant's attorneys have protested against bringing in an outside judge, arguing that the case doesn't necessitate any special treatment. However, because of the man's deep political connections around Cook County, local judges could be unconsciously biased or the trial could simply have the appearance of impropriety.
One judge from Cook County recently stepped aside from the case after being randomly assigned to it, saying that his past professional relationship with the man's uncle could lead to questions about his ability to be truly impartial.
The right to a fair trial is one of the essential elements to the criminal justice system and to ensuring that innocent people don't go to jail and that people who are guilty of crimes are appropriately dealt with. High-publicity trials can be difficult for defendants who often face intense scrutiny by the public even before findings have been made on any of the facts of the case.
Source: Chicago Tribune, "Judge: Daley nephew case should be given to judge outside Cook Co.," Jason Meisner, Dec. 17, 2012.
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