CHICAGO (STMW) — The U.S. Supreme Court has shot down a bid by the Chicago Sun-Times to overturn a federal appeals court ruling that found it broke the law when it published the heights and weights of Chicago cops who acted as “fillers” in a police lineup in the David Koschman case.
The court denied the Sun-Times’ petition without comment Monday, records show. Sun-Times Publisher Jim Kirk said the paper had no comment.
The 7th Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in February that physical characteristics of five cops who stood alongside Mayor Richard M. Daley’s nephew, Richard “R.J.” Vanecko, in a lineup amounted to “private information” improperly obtained from the officers’ driver’s licenses. That included the officers’ height, weight, eye and hair color, as well as their months and years of birth.
Vanecko pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter last year under a deal that saw him jailed for 60 days. He threw a punch in 2004 that killed the 21-year-old Koschman, but he was indicted only after a series of Sun-Times articles raised questions about whether he got preferential treatment from the police, including the way a 2004 lineup was handled in which the police said witnesses failed to pick him out as Koschman’s attacker.
The officers sued the Sun-Times in 2012, saying they were “gravely concerned for their safety” after the newspaper on Nov. 21, 2011, published for the first time a photo from the lineup. A story published alongside that photo noted that the five officers picked to stand alongside Vanecko were all larger and heavier than Vanecko, who witnesses said had been the largest man at the scene when Koschman was punched.
The appeals court ruled the paper violated the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act when it published the officers’ weights, heights and other identifying details obtained from records held by the Illinois secretary of state.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2015. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)