Kwame Raoul declines to discuss ‘review’ of Van Dyke sentencing

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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul | Sun-Times file photo

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul on Friday dismissed the claim that his office was reviewing former Chicago cop Jason Van Dyke’s 81-month prison sentence for “political gain.”

“That doesn’t merit a response,” Raoul said of defense attorney Dan Herbert’s comments that he was exploiting Laquan McDonald’s death.

Raoul declined to give additional details about his office’s review of the sentence while speaking to reporters shortly before giving a speech at a criminal justice reform forum downtown.

“It’s the domain of the attorney general to play the role of determining what, in the end, is brought to the high court on behalf of the people of the State of Illinois,” he said.

Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan handed down the sentence last week in the slaying of McDonald, shocking activists and McDonald’s relatives. Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon had asked Gaughan for an 18-20-year term. Defense attorneys sought probation.

Raoul told reporters he decided to review the sentence after “the issue was brought to me by staff.”

He declined to say how long the review might take.

“It’s nothing new,” he said of this type of review. “It didn’t start with Kwame Raoul. It’s been happening for years. So on that basis, we’re reviewing the record and the law.”

He said he has not yet spoken to McMahon about the case, but says he expects to do so at some point.

Also on Friday, Raoul said that he was unaware of Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s position on recreational marijuana. On Thursday, Foxx spoke of her support for legalization and announced plans to expunge all misdemeanor marijuana convictions.

“I haven’t had any conversations with her about that,”  Raoul said. “The devil is always in the details.”

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