Activity in the Daley Center, already naturally quiet on a Friday afternoon, emptied out a little sooner than normal at the direction of the chief judge in preparation for the reading of the verdict in the People v. Van Dyke criminal trial.
A memo from Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans that went out to circuit court employees indicated the verdict in the high-profile trial at the Leighton Criminal Court Building was "imminent" and that "public demonstrations might impede departure from court facilities" and complicate the afternoon commute home.
"Unless you are otherwise directed on site by law enforcement personnel, and except for personnel assigned to bond court, please swipe out and vacate the facility as soon as court operations permit," Evans wrote.
The jury read the verdict in the murder trial shortly after 1:45 p.m. on Friday, about an hour after reaching a verdict. Defendant Jason Van Dyke, a Chicago police officer, was found guilty on one count of second-degree murder and 16 counts of aggravated assault for the on-duty shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014.