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Criminal Justice

Trial Begins for Lawyer Accused of Letting Suspect Use Her Cellphone in Interrogation Room

Posted Nov 28, 2012 11:32 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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An Illinois lawyer was expected to testify in her own defense Wednesday during her trial for letting a Chicago murder suspect use her cellphone in the police interrogation room.

The trial of Sladjana Vuckovic began on Tuesday with testimony from a Chicago police detective who peered inside the room when he heard the suspect apparently having a conversation with himself. The detective saw the suspect talking on Vuckovic’s phone. The Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune covered the proceedings.

Vuckovic is charged with bringing contraband to a penal institution. Prosecutors allege she allowed double-murder suspect Timothy Herring Jr. make or receive 26 calls in all. She works for the Chicago Transit Authority and was representing Herring as a volunteer for First Defense Legal Aid.

According to the Tribune, “The charges sparked a controversy among criminal-defense lawyers who said they routinely bring their cellphones into police interview rooms and sometimes let clients make calls. Some veteran attorneys said they could not remember a similar case ever being pursued by police.”

Vuckovic’s lawyer, Leonard Goodman, said his client was allowing the suspect to reach out to family and friends, and had warned him not to talk about the case. Goodman also questioned whether an interrogation room qualified as a penal institution.

Herring was later charged with killing a Chicago police evidence technician processing evidence at the scene of a garage burglary, as well as the burglary victim, a former police officer with the Chicago Housing Authority.

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