Meet the play­ers in the next Laquan McDon­ald-re­lated trial

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CHICAGOLAND - By Me­gan Cre­peau and Christy Gu­towski mcre­[email protected]­ [email protected]­

The un­prece­dented trial of three Chicago cops ac­cused of cov­er­ing up de­tails of the 2014 shoot­ing death of Laquan McDon­ald gets un­der­way Tues­day at the Leighton Crim­i­nal Court Build­ing.

For­mer De­tec­tive David March, ex-Of­fi­cer Joseph Walsh and Of­fi­cer Thomas Gaffney all face charges al­leg­ing they filed false po­lice re­ports that ex­ag­ger­ated the threat posed by McDon­ald be­fore Of­fi­cer Ja­son Van Dyke shot him 16 times.

Un­like Van Dyke’s re­cent trial on mur­der charges, all three de­fen­dants ac­cused in the al­leged cover-up have waived their right to a jury and opted to have a judge de­cide their fate. Here’s a look at the key play­ers:

The judge

A long­time Cook County prose­cu­tor be­fore tak­ing the bench, Stephen­son is known as a de­pend­able, hard­work­ing judge with a low-key de­meanor, though some de­fense at­tor­neys be­lieve she too eas­ily fa­vors the pros­e­cu­tion. Stephen­son has presided over cases at the Leighton Crim­i­nal Court Build­ing for a decade but was only as­signed her own court­room last year. ad­vanced de­grees in both busi­ness and en­gi­neer­ing. As an at­tor­ney, he has prac­ticed through­out the coun­try, in­clud­ing at the ap­pel­late level.

Kelly Warner: Warner’s work fo­cuses in part on in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions and reg­u­la­tory in­quiries. She has taught at Loy­ola Univer­sity Chicago’s School of Law and is a direc­tor at the Chicago Bar Foun­da­tion. Breen Fahy

The de­fense at­tor­neys

The vet­eran crim­i­nal de­fense at­tor­ney, who rep­re­sents Walsh, is no stranger to high-stakes court­room drama. He helped clear Gary Dot­son of a rape-re­lated con­vic­tion in what be­came the na­tion's first DNA ex­on­er­a­tion in 1985. A decade later, Breen was the lead coun­sel in the 1995 ac­quit­tal of Rolando Cruz, who had twice been con­victed and sen­tenced to death for the 1983 mur­der of Naperville school­girl Jea­nine Ni­carico. The for­mer prose­cu­tor has more than 40 years in pri­vate crim­i­nal de­fense work and his well-known clients have in­cluded judges, politi­cians and, most re­cently, Ge­orge Pa­padopou­los, the for­mer Trump cam­paign ad­viser who pleaded guilty to ly­ing to the FBI.

William Fahy: Fahy, who rep­re­sents Gaffney, is a for­mer Cook County as­sis­tant state’s at­tor­ney who pros­e­cuted death penalty cases dur­ing his decade in the of­fice be­fore he launched his own prac­tice. He has carved out a niche de­fend­ing po­lice of­fi­cers, fire­fight­ers and other govern­ment of­fi­cials in crim­i­nal and ad­min­is­tra­tive dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings. One of his most no­to­ri­ous cases was de­fend­ing An­thony Ab­bate, a po­lice of­fi­cer, in the off-duty beat­ing of a fe­male bar­tender caught on se­cu­rity cam­eras in­side a North­west Side bar.

James McKay: The at­tor­ney for March, McKay was a long­time top Cook County as­sis­tant state’s at­tor­ney who for three decades served as lead coun­sel in sev­eral high-pro­file crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tions, in­clud­ing the slay­ings of three mem­bers of singer Jen­nifer Hud­son’s fam­ily, four sep­a­rate killings of Chicago po­lice of­fi­cers, the fa­tal shoot­ing of com­mu­nity ac­tivist Arnold Mire­les and the pros­e­cu­tion of se­rial killers An­drew Ur­diales and An­dre Craw­ford. In pri­vate prac­tice, he works in crim­i­nal de­fense and rep­re­sents civil plain­tiffs in per­sonal in­jury, med­i­cal mal­prac­tice and nurs­ing home ne­glect cases.

Todd Pugh: He rep­re­sents Walsh with Breen, his law part­ner. As a rookie law school stu­dent, Pugh as­sisted in the high-pro­file ex­on­er­a­tions of Gary Gauger and Rolando Cruz. Pugh met Breen dur­ing Cruz’s 1995 re­trial. He con­tin­ued his work with Breen as a law clerk and joined the firm af­ter grad­u­at­ing from law school. While the two have part­nered in note­wor­thy cases in state and fed­eral court, Pugh is also well versed in ap­peals and post-con­vic­tion work. He won a re­ver­sal in 2000 in a DuPage County shaken-baby mur­der case. Pugh is a fre­quent lec­turer on trial prac­tice and foren­sic ev­i­dence and an ad­junct pro­fes­sor at his alma mater, DePaul Univer­sity Col­lege of Law.


Chicago po­lice Of­fi­cer Thomas Gaffney, left, ex-Of­fi­cer Joseph Walsh and for­mer De­tec­tive David March.






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