The judge presiding over the murder trial of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke asked the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services on Thursday to send him over 8,200 pages of Laquan McDonald’s juvenile court records.
However, Judge Vincent Gaughan hasn’t decided whether Van Dyke’s defense team will see the files when he receives them. He said he will first analyze them himself to see if they are relevant for the officer’s pending trial.
Gaughan made the order in response to defense attorney Daniel Herbert’s request. Herbert wants to see the files so he can build a case for his client, who is accused of shooting 17-year-old McDonald 16 times.
BRIEFING: Laquan McDonald videos, police reports FILES: Juvenile records shed light on Laquan’s difficult life MITCHELL: McDonald’s juvenile records should be off-limits to Van Dyke’s lawyer
Van Dyke can face up to 45 years in prison if he is convicted for the 2014 incident, Herbert noted, arguing that he is entitled to the records.
Just last month, Patricia Martin, the presiding judge of the child protection division of the Juvenile Court denied Herbert access to the records.
Herbert made his plea to see the records again to Gaughan on Thursday, saying it was “ludicrous” that he is being kept from them.
McDonald’s juvenile court records, usually confidential, were made public to the Chicago Sun-Times and other media outlets late last year after the graphic dashcam video of McDonald’s death in the 4100 block of South Pulaski was made public.
Herbert noted the “significant” amount of PCP in McDonald’s system and his “erratic behavior” at the time and said he needed to browse the records to see if the teenager had a medical condition or was on medication.
Abuse and neglect complaints began when McDonald was a toddler. He became a ward of the state at age 3, was in and out of foster care, and had a history of arrests for drugs and petty crimes, according to those records.