Jenner & Block

Firm Wins Acquittal of Pro Bono Client Accused of First Degree Murder

On December 17, 2012, a Jenner & Block pro bono client accused of first-degree murder in the 2009 death of his 22-year-old son was found not guilty by a Cook County jury, after fewer than two hours of deliberations.  The verdict followed a 13-day trial that included the showing of a video recorded interview of the Firm’s client Hyungseok Koh, conducted by police and taped shortly after his son Paul was found dead, during which, prosecutors argued, he confessed to killing the young man.  

The Firm’s team, led by Partners Terri L. Mascherin and Andrew W. Vail, was able to show the jury that, due to language difficulties, Mr. Koh, who is a native of South Korea, did not understand either the interrogation process or the questions clearly.  In addition, the team presented evidence that Paul Koh had a history of mental illness and argued that there was no physical evidence to convict Koh and that his son’s death was a suicide.    

In addition to Ms. Mascherin and Mr. Vail, other members of the Firm’s team included Partner Wade A. Thomson; Associates Daniel T. Fenske, Laura E.B. Hulce, Kyle A. Palazzolo and Matthew A. Wlodarczyk; Senior Paralegal Shawn K. McGee; Paralegal Tiffany N. Steele; and Project Assistant John M. Sachs. 

The Illinois law requiring videotaping of custodial interrogations in homicide cases is the result of the work of the Illinois Governor’s Commission on Capital Punishment, which was chaired by Partner Thomas P. Sullivan, under then-Illinois Gov. George Ryan.