Trump nominates judge who ordered release of Laquan McDonald shooting to federal bench

Trump nominates judge who ordered release of Laquan McDonald shooting to federal bench

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CHICAGO — A Cook County judge who changed the course of Chicago history by forcing the city to release the Laquan McDonald shooting video has been nominated to the federal bench.

Judge Franklin Valderrama, who has served as an associate judge at the Daley Center since 2007, was nominated this week to serve as a U.S. District Court judge by President Donald Trump, according to an announcement from the clerk’s office of the Northern District of Illinois.

Also nominated by the president to fill a district judge position was Iain Johnston, who currently serves as a federal magistrate at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse.

The nominations will be considered by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee before likely being sent for a vote by the full Senate.

“Our court is extremely pleased by the nomination of these two distinguished jurists and eagerly awaits their confirmations,” U.S. District Chief Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer said in a statement.

Valderrama was thrust into the spotlight in November 2015 when he rejected the arguments of city of Chicago lawyers that the now-infamous police dash-cam video depicting Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times should be kept from the public.

The ruling came as a surprise to the Emanuel administration, which had fought to keep the video under wraps and quietly negotiated a $5 million payment to McDonald’s family before a lawsuit was even filed.

Just days after Valderrama’s order, the video was released by the city, leading to weeks of protests, first-degree murder charges against Van Dyke, and the firing of then-police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

The outrage over the shooting of 17-year-old McDonald -- who was black -- by a white officer also prompted a historic civil rights probe by the U.S. Justice Department that found the Chicago Police Department systematically abused citizens, particularly those in impoverished neighborhoods.

Van Dyke was convicted by a jury of second-degree murder and is serving a 6\u00bd-year prison sentence. The city, meanwhile, has entered into a consent degree in federal court that calls for a major overhaul of Police Department practices.

Valderrama could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

A graduate of University of Illinois at Chicago, Valderrama earned his law degree from DePaul University and is an adjunct professor at John Marshall Law School.

Prior to joining the Cook County bench, Valderrama was a partner at Sanchez, Daniels & Hoffman LLP, where his practice focused on trial litigation, according to the news release.

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