Judge won’t unseal final batch of records in Jason Van Dyke trial

Still under seal is a motion from Van Dyke’s lawyers, accusing former State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez with the original indictment in the Laquan McDonald case.

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Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke listens before his trial begins for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Monday. | Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune pool photo

Cook County Judge Vincent Gaughan on Thursday refused to unseal a handful of records in Jason Van Dyke’s murder case. Above, Van Dyke sits at the defense table during his trial last year.

The public won’t get to look at a motion in which lawyers for Jason Van Dyke accused former Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez of misconduct in front of the grand jury that indicted the former Chicago Police officer in the murder of Laquan McDonald, a judge ruled Thursday.

Judge Vincent Gaughan twice ruled against the motion before Van Dyke’s trial last year. The judge had previously said he was reluctant to make the filing public because it included confidential information presented to the grand jury, and because there was “not a scintilla of evidence” of misconduct by prosecutors.

Gaughan had enforced unusual secrecy around the case after it landed on his docket in 2015, requiring all filings to be made under seal until lawyers for media organizations — including the Chicago Sun-Times — petitioned the state Supreme Court to make the records public. The hearing Thursday was set for Gaughan’s ruling on fewer than 20 records that remained sealed out of the more than 100 filings in the case.

Special Prosecutor Joseph McMahon had agreed to a compromise with lawyers for the media organizations that would have allowed the motions to dismiss to be released after he had redacted grand jury information. Van Dyke’s lawyer, Dan Herbert, said that the reluctance to release the motion showed that he had raised valid points.

“If there were frivolous motions and there wasn’t any evidence, I don’t think anybody would have a problem with them being released,” Herbert said.

Gaughan was unmoved.

“Individuals and lawyers are entitled to their reputation,” the judge said.

Jeffrey Colman, lawyer for WBEZ radio, said an appeal of Gaughan’s ruling was likely.

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