December 29, 2014

Jenner & Block Partner Andrew W. Vail is featured in a lengthy interview with the Korean Broadcasting Company (KBC-TV) in Chicago about the firm’s successful pro bono defense of Korean-American Hyungseok Koh.  In 2009, Mr. Koh was charged with the first-degree murder of his 22-year-old son, Paul.  After a 13-day trial in 2012, a jury found Mr. Koh not-guilty, agreeing with the defense argument that Paul had in fact committed suicide.   In the interview,  Andrew explains that pro bono service is a “critical part of what we view our role to be as lawyers.”  Andrew discusses the team’s use of the videotaped police interrogation of Mr. Koh, which, Andrew explains, illustrated the officers’ “tunnel vision” in attempting to force Mr. Koh to agree to their version of what happened.  The tape also illustrated the communication breakdown between police and Mr. Koh, even though the police used a Korean-American officer from another department to assist.  Andrew praises Mr. Koh’s family and the Korean-American community for their support throughout the case and recalls a “cinematic moment” when Mr. Koh walked out of jail after midnight on a cold December day.  His wife met her newly freed husband on the street and immediately fed him a spoonful of tofu – a Korean custom that ensures that a person who spent time in prison will never return.  In addition to Andrew, the team included Partners Terri L. Mascherin and Wade A. Thomson and Associates Daniel T. Fenske and Laura E.B. Hulce.  In October 2014, the Korean American Bar Association of Chicago (KABA) bestowed its Distinguished Service Award on the firm for its work on the case. 

Andrew’s interview, which was broadcast throughout the Chicago area and in South Korea, can be viewed here; it starts at 03:39.