Just over a month after Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder, leaders of the union that represents most of the department’s rank-and-file officers apparently are unhappy with his lawyer.
The board of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 has voted to no longer refer cases to Daniel Herbert, a former CPD officer and prosecutor who once worked as an FOP staff attorney. Herbert, who headed a team of attorneys representing Van Dyke, has built his private practice largely on representing police officers in labor disputes, as well as handling civil and criminal cases involving officers.
Van Dyke’s trial for the murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald marked the first time that Herbert had represented a defendant in a murder case. Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder, but jurors opted to convict him of the lesser charge of second-degree murder, along with 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.
The guilty verdict against Van Dyke came a year after another of Herbert’s police officer clients, Marco Proano, was convicted on federal civil rights charges for firing 16 shots into a car filled with teenagers.
In a statement, Herbert said Van Dyke wants to keep him on as his lawyer, and that the FOP board members who voted in favor of not sending further union business his way were “entitled to their opinion.” He noted that they had not attended the “majority” of the proceedings in Van Dyke’s case and had not watched all of the trial, which was broadcast live. FOP President Kevin Graham and Vice President Martin Preib both attended numerous pre-trial hearings and much of the three-week trial.
“This case was not about the current FOP leadership. It is about Jason and his family. I remain close to them and Jason wants me to stay on as his lawyer,” Herbert said in the statement.
“When I agreed to defend this case, I chose to step into the arena and I knew that whatever the outcome, I would be met with Monday morning quarterback critics. Because of the politics, the cover-up, the video and the world-wide media attention, few lawyers wanted to take this on.”
Herbert said he would continue to represent police officers, despite the change in his relationship with FOP leadership. Van Dyke was jailed immediately after the guilty verdict, and Cook County Jail officials soon after had him transferred to a jail in Rock Island, Ill., three hours west of Chicago on the Mississippi River.
Herbert on Monday filed a motion seeking to move to January the date of a hearing on motions to throw out the guilty verdict or grant Van Dyke a new trial. If Judge Vincent Gaughan denies the motions, Van Dyke would likely face sentencing, with some experts suggesting he faces a sentence of up to 96 years in prison.
Herbert’s spokeswoman also released a statement from Van Dyke’s wife, Tiffany.
“We are very happy with the job Dan Herbert did for Jason. Dan is part of our family and Jason would like him to continue on as his attorney,” the statement reads. “He knows how hard Dan and his legal team worked on his behalf. This news is very distressing to me.”