Cook County Chief Judge
Evans agreed to a request earlier today from Judge Michael Toomin that a judge from outside Cook County preside over the trial of Richard Vanecko because of the appearance of impropriety.
"To permit the appearance of impropriety acknowledged by Judge Toomin to persist would undermine public confidence in the administration of justice," Evans said in a letter to the state's highest court.
Toomin took the action after a judge with ties to Daley who had been randomly assigned last week to preside over the involuntary manslaughter charge voluntarily stepped aside today. The special prosecutor then asked that the case against Daley’s nephew, Richard Vanecko, be assigned to a judge outside of Cook County.
Toomin agreed and said he would refer the matter to Cook County Chief Judge
Toomin said he had the utmost respect for judges in Cook County and he believed there were plenty that could be fair and impartial, but he said he felt a judge needed to be brought in from outside the county because of “perceptions that have nonetheless pervaded this case.”
Whatever Cook County judge was selected would be scrutinized not by the soundness of their rulings “but rather by the road taken by that particular judge to get to where he or she is today,” including any political friendships or professional connections, Toomin said.
Vanecko's attorneys strongly objected, telling Toomin that to go outside Cook County for a judge would give the case preferential treatment than it doesn’t need.
Speaking to reporters in the lobby of the Leighton Criminal Court Building, Vanecko’s attorney, Marc Martin, called it "disappointing" that the perception exists that Vanecko can't receive a fair trial from a Cook County judge.
"We are really outraged by the fact that because some newspaper reporters think that Cook County judges can't be fair that this case has to be reassigned," Martin said.
But Martin went on to call the prosecution witnesses in the case “liars” and said, “You can bring a judge from Kalamazoo for all I care.”
The case had been assigned last week to Judge Arthur Hill, but he declined to voluntarily withdraw despite ties to Daley, saying he could be “fair and impartial.” However, Hill reconsidered and withdrew today.
“I am ready and able to handle this case, but in an abundance of caution, I am recusing myself from further proceedings,” Hill said.
After Vanecko entered a not guilty plea last week, Hill told attorneys he was a prosecutor when Daley was Cook County state's attorney, and that Daley later appointed him to the board of the