Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.  AP file photo

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez. AP file photo

Alvarez: Don’t revive Koschman mom’s suit

Published May 24, 2015

Staff Reporters

City Hall has settled its part of the David Koschman case for $250,000, but Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez is continuing to fight a civil rights lawsuit filed by Koschman’s mother accusing law-enforcement authorities of conspiring to keep a nephew of former Mayor Richard M. Daley from being charged in her son’s death.

Attorneys for Alvarez, her chief of staff Dan Kirk, former State’s Attorney Richard Devine and Darren O’Brien — the former prosecutor who decided there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Daley nephew Richard J. “R.J.” Vanecko in 2004 — filed court papers Friday opposing Nanci Koschman’s efforts to have her case reinstated by the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

Alvarez, Kirk, Devine and O’Brien said prosecutors have “absolute immunity” that protects them from civil liability for not charging Daley’s nephew, who pleaded guilty in January 2014 to involuntary manslaughter and served two months in jail. Vanecko was charged with killing the 21-year-old David Koschman after a special prosecutor was appointed to reopen the case in the wake of a Chicago Sun-Times investigation.

The prosecutors also said they did nothing to prevent Nanci Koschman from filing a lawsuit shortly after her son died, contrary to the allegations in her complaint.

“No matter how appalling some of the conduct of some of the other actors may be, Darren O’Brien does not deserve to be enmeshed in this fight,” O’Brien’s attorney, Craig Tobin, said in a court motion Friday. “He exercised his prosecutorial discretion” when he recommended not charging Vanecko 11 years ago.

Koschman is trying to revive her lawsuit on appeal after U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer dismissed her case last year, saying the statute of limitations to file the suit had run out.

Pallmeyer said she should have filed the lawsuit at the same time she asked for a special prosecutor — in late 2011. The judge said the request for a special prosecutor triggered a two-year statute of limitations, which expired in December 2013 — about a month before Vanecko pleaded guilty.

Despite ruling against her, Pallmeyer suggested the city and county settle with Koschman.

In an appeal filed in March, lawyers for the Mount Prospect woman argued she couldn’t have filed the lawsuit until after Vanecko admitted he killed her son.

Her lawsuit said Vanecko’s guilty plea exposed a 10-year conspiracy involving the Chicago Police Department and prosecutors to bury the case.

Less than a month after her appeal, City Hall agreed to settle with Koschman, who dropped her claims against the city, the police department and 21 current and former members of the department.