[Ppnews] Chicago Torture Cases

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Dec 10 10:56:52 EST 2007

Lawsuits alleging police torture settled

Friday, December 07, 2007 | 6:15 PM

By Paul Meincke

CHICAGO -- A civil settlement has been reached in 
police torture cases involving former Chicago police Lt. Jon Burge.

The settlement includes the cases of four men who 
claimed they were tortured into making false 
confessions by Burge and detectives working under 
his command. The tentative settlement will cost the city millions of dollars.

Burge has not been charged because the incidents, 
which date back to the 1970's, are too old to prosecute.

The tentative settlement has been years in the 
making and will cost the city close to $20 
million, if the finance committee approves it on 
Monday and the full council follows two days later.

In the financial settlement, the city makes no 
admission of responsibility for the behavior of Jon Burge.

It has been 25 years since the first allegations 
were made that Jon Burge and detectives under his 
command tortured suspects into offering 
confessions. A year and a half ago, special 
prosecutors confirmed that the abuse did occur. 
Through all those years, Burge, who is now living 
in Florida and collecting his pension, became the 
signature name and face in debates over police brutality.

Now, the city is agreeing to settle financially 
with four men who argued they were tortured by 
Burge and his colleagues: Stanley Howard, Leroy 
Orange, Aaron Patterson and Madison Hobley. Those 
four were pardoned five years ago by then Governor George Ryan.

"I can't comment on the four corners of document 
as of yet because it hasn't been made public. 
But, I can say if you look at the numbers, I 
think they speak for themselves in terms of what 
the city is saying with regard to the conduct of 
Burge and these men in these four cases," said 
Flint Taylor, attorney for Leroy Orange.

The tentative settlement for one of the four 
specifies that it is not an admission of 
liability and shall not serve as evidence or 
notice of any wrongdoing. Still, aldermen, long 
concerned with the chasm of mistrust between 
largely African American neighborhoods and the 
police department, believe the settlement is a 
key step in the right direction.

"We want to get past it. We weren't concerned 
about the dollars that were paid and agreed upon. 
That was not our concern. We just wanted to get 
this case settled because it is causing all kinds 
of problems in the community," said Ald. Ed Smith of Chicago's 28th Ward.

The tentative settlement does not mean that Jon 
Burge's name will disappear from headlines. There 
is another Burge case that has not been settled.

The special prosecutor concluded last year that 
the statute of limitations prevented a criminal 
prosecution of Burge and selected colleagues in 
state court, but the U.S. attorney's office is 
investigating possible violations of federal law, 
which are not bound by time constraints.

Each of the four men involved in Friday's 
tentative settlement were, at one time, on death 
row. Aaron Patterson and Stanley Howard are still 
in prison. Leroy Orange and Madison Hobley have been released.

(Copyright ©2007 WLS-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Investigations, suits dealing with ex-cop force Daley's hand

By Steve Mills and David Heinzmann | Tribune staff reporters
9, 2007
As Mayor Richard Daley scrambles to deal with a 
string of current scandals erupting inside the 
Chicago Police Department, old scandals continue to haunt him.

The news of nearly $20 million in settlements 
with four former Death Row inmates allegedly 
tortured by police into making confessions two 
decades ago -- when Daley was the Cook County 
state's attorney -- comes amid a spate of fresh 
scandals that have forced the mayor to take 
unexpected steps in his dealing with his most troublesome department.

He moved to restructure civilian oversight of the 
police and hired a California lawyer to head the 
Office of Professional Standards, now renamed the 
Independent Police Review Authority.

For the first time in his administration, Daley 
this month reached outside the Police Department, 
where he had found every previous superintendent, 
to make an FBI official his new police boss.

But it is the scandal with roots in the 1980s 
that has had the most staying power -- and that 
won't end with one of the largest settlements of 
a police lawsuit in city history.

"Why does this have such legs? Because of the 
enormity of what's alleged and the cast of 
characters that are, without question, involved 
in this over the years," said lawyer Flint 
Taylor, who has pushed the torture issue for two 
decades and handled several inmates' cases.

Those characters begin with Jon Burge, the 
commander of a South Side unit of police 
detectives alleged to have tortured dozens of 
murder suspects, most in the 1980s.

Fired in 1993 for the torture of Andrew Wilson, 
who was convicted of murdering two police 
officers, Burge has been a target of numerous 
lawsuits and investigations. The city has 
admitted Burge engaged in torture, yet at the 
same time is obligated to pay his legal fees.

A special prosecutor concluded in a four-year 
report released in 2006 that torture was 
widespread, but Burge and other officers could 
not be prosecuted because of statute of 
limitations issues. But federal prosecutors 
confirmed recently they were investigating Burge.

U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald also confirmed 
his office had opened an investigation into the 
1987 arson that killed seven people and sent 
Madison Hobley to Death Row. Hobley is one of the 
four former Death Row prisoners in the lawsuit 
settlement. The others are Leroy Orange, Stanley 
Howard and Aaron Patterson. All four received 
pardons based on innocence from former Gov. George Ryan.

"We feel like we have nothing to hide, and all of 
the evidence points to somebody other than Mr. 
Hobley," said lawyer Kurt Feuer, who has 
represented Hobley for several years. "It took a 
long time not only to get him out of prison, but to get him some compensation."

Burge could not be reached for comment.

Besides Daley, the torture issue touches the 
current state's attorney, Richard Devine, whose 
office defended against numerous appeals in which 
torture was a central claim. It has even been 
raised among the many candidates seeking to 
succeed Devine, suggesting the scandal is not losing steam in spite of its age.

The fallout from the police torture scandal not 
only has cost Daley politically, it also has had 
mounting financial consequences for city taxpayers.

This year alone, excessive force and other 
misconduct payouts approved by the City Council, 
as well as new jury verdicts and lawsuit 
settlements, have tallied $25 million. Add to it 
the $19.8 million to settle the four torture 
cases and the cost to Chicago taxpayers 
approaches $45 million. That figure does not 
include legal fees, such as the roughly $6 
million in Burge-related court cases in recent years.

And that is not the end. City officials already 
are battling a barrage of lawsuits stemming from 
the massive Special Operations Section scandal, 
even as the federal and state investigations of 
the officers' actions widens. Already, seven 
officers have been charged with robbing and 
kidnapping people over several years.

Federal investigators, meantime, have joined the 
SOS inquiry to try to determine why commanders 
allowed the officers to remain on the street for 
years despite a pattern of misconduct complaints.

Aldermen who welcomed the latest settlements in 
the Burge case predicted the City Council would 
approve the deals this week. But the torture lawsuits are not finished.

Darrell Cannon, who spent 23 years in prison and 
has long claimed he was tortured by Burge's 
detectives, has a lawsuit with new life. Taylor, 
who represents Cannon, said a federal judge 
recently approved depositions of several dozen witnesses.

That means Daley will face a growing docket of 
current scandals as well as lawsuits that arise 
out of misconduct from the past, a fact Ald. 
Robert Fioretti (2nd) finds frustrating.

"We need to put the Burge matter behind us as 
soon as possible so we can move forward," said 
Fioretti, a lawyer who has represented the 
wrongfully convicted. Fioretti represented 
LaFonso Rollins, who spent 11 years in prison for 
rape before DNA evidence exonerated him in 2004. 
Rollins received a $9 million settlement from the city.

Settlement for Torture of 4 Men by Police
New York Times

Published: December 8, 2007

CHICAGO, Dec. 7 — The City of Chicago is 
preparing to pay nearly $20 million to four men 
who were once sent to death row after 
interrogations that they say amounted to torture 
by the Chicago police, the city's law department said on Friday.

If the legal settlement is approved next week by 
the city's aldermen, it will be a crucial first 
effort to put a painful, notorious chapter in the 
city's history behind it, some officials here said.

The four men were among scores of black men who 
reported being tortured, beaten with telephone 
books, and even suffocated with plastic 
typewriter covers during police interrogations in 
the 1970s and 1980s, special prosecutors found 
last year. The four men were pardoned by Gov. George Ryan in 2003.

Of the proposed settlement, Flint Taylor, a 
lawyer for one of the men, Leroy Orange, 
said,  "speaks volumes about the seriousness of 
the systematic torture, abuse and cover-up that 
went on in the city of Chicago for decades."

The settlement comes at a time of tense relations 
between the Chicago Police Department and the 
city's residents, following a string of incidents 
— the beatings of civilians caught on videotape, 
a report showing a high rate of brutality 
complaints, a corruption investigation into an 
elite police unit. Only last month, officials 
announced they had selected a new police 
superintendent from outside the city ranks.

"This is an important step down the road," Toni 
Preckwinkle, an alderman, said of the planned 
settlement. "We have to acknowledge first that 
terrible wrongs were committed, then begin to 
make amends to those who were wronged, then put a 
system in place to see that this doesn't happen again."

Monique Bond, a spokeswoman for the Police 
Department, called the settlement "a positive 
step forward as we make fighting crime and 
building community trust our No. 1 priority."

Many of those who reported torture in police 
interrogation rooms pointed to a commander named 
Jon Burge, who was fired in 1993, and to those he 
supervised. Mr. Burge did not respond to a 
telephone message at his Florida home on Friday.

Advocates for some of the four men seemed 
relieved by the financial settlements, but 
emphasized that there were still others out there 
who had reported being similarly abused and 
tortured into confessing. Many were still behind bars, Mr. Taylor said.

Kurt Feuer, who represents Madison Hobley, 
another of the four men, criticized the city as 
taking too long. "It shouldn't have taken four 
and a half years and millions of dollars of 
taxpayers' money spent on fighting us tooth and 
nail every step of the way," Mr. Feuer said. 
"Whose interests were served by that?"

Since their pardons, Mr. Hobley, who had been 
convicted of killing seven people in a 1987 
arson, and Mr. Orange, who was convicted in the 
1984 stabbing deaths of two adults and two 
children, have been out of prison. Two others, 
Stanley Howard and Aaron Patterson, are behind 
bars now — Mr. Howard on an unrelated charge and 
Mr. Patterson on new drugs and weapon charges.

More recently, Mr. Hobley has been identified as 
the suspect in a federal arson and murder 
investigation, according to a news release from 
the city law department. If he is indicted and 
convicted in the federal case, the settlement 
says, a part of his money will not be paid.

Told of the settlement, Kevin Milan, a relative 
of Mr. Hobley, said, "They took long enough."

"A human's life was hanging in the balance," Mr. 
Milan said. "watched what it did to all of us — 
years were taken off of lives through this."


Settlement is good, but doesn't close case on Burge

Chicago Sun Times

December 9, 2007

Nearly $20 million. That's how much the city's 
latest police abuse settlement will cost 
taxpayers. This time the payout was for one of 
the most notorious police abuse cases in Chicago 
history -- Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge's reign 
at Area 2. How much more will we have to shell 
out because of cops who think they are above the law?

Burge has already cost the city more than $18 
million in lawyers fees, investigations and other 
settlements. Now four men who say they were 
tortured by Burge will split an additional $19.8 
million, according to a settlement that was 
announced Friday and must be approved by the City Council next week.

We'd be happier that a settlement was finally 
reached if it hadn't been so long in coming and 
if police misconduct wasn't already costing us so 
dearly this year. That $19.8 million is in 
addition to $27 million the city paid in the 
first nine months of this year in police misconduct judgments and settlements.

But as Ald. Toni Preckwinkle points out, settling 
with the four men who were pardoned from Death 
Row -- Aaron Patterson, Leroy Orange, Stanley 
Howard and Madison Hobley -- is not only morally 
right but fiscally responsible. Had they gone to 
trial, the men probably would have won and 
probably would have been awarded much more than 
$20 million -- perhaps as much as $195 million.

Their cases were boosted by a report from special 
prosecutors last year that concluded that Burge 
and others routinely tortured suspects in the 
1970s and 1980s but that it was too late to prosecute them.

The city abruptly pulled out of a proposed 
settlement earlier this year and later explained 
the reason -- the feds were investigating Hobley 
for arson. Under Friday's proposal, he will get 
his full $7.5 million share only if the feds don't prosecute him by 2009.

The settlement certainly helps clear the slate 
for the new police superintendent, Jody Weis. And 
"it's a very significant step for the city to 
finally compensate several victims of extreme 
police torture by Burge," Flint Taylor, the 
lawyer for Orange, told us. But it doesn't completely close the book on Burge.

There still are cases pending against the city 
and the Cook County state's attorney. And there's 
the matter of Burge, who was fired in 1993 but is 
living comfortably on his $2,500-a-month police pension.

Finding a way to cut him off and prosecute him 
must be a priority. Only then will our long Burge 
nightmare, and its outrageous drain on city coffers, be over.


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