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Ruling: Daley Can Be Sued In Connection With Burge Torture Case

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Mayor Richard M. Daley

Mayor Richard M. Daley talks about achievements on the city’s West Side at Union Park. (Credit: CBS)

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UPDATED 08/10/11 4:40 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) — Retired Mayor Richard M. Daley could be back in the spotlight again, as there is a new effort to include him as a civil defendant in the police torture case against Cmdr. Jon Burge.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Daley could soon face questions from attorneys representing torture victim Michael Tillman.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer ruled in July that Daley could be named as a defendant in Tillman’s case. Daley’s attorneys are asking Pallmeyer to rethink the decision.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports


But Daley has now received a notice to appear for a deposition on Sept. 8, where he will be subjected to extensive questioning about his alleged involvement in covering up police torture when he was serving as Cook County State’s Attorney.

On Wednesday, civil rights attorney G. Flint Taylor called the ruling on Daley a victory.

“He’s definitely responsible from the beginning for the scandal, because if he had acted in 1982 when he first was given strong evidence of police torture, we wouldn’t have had many of the men tortured and sent to death row and wrongfully convicted,” Taylor said. “So yes, he is responsible, and that’s what the lawsuit says.”

Taylor said Burge “was quite hostile” when he was questioned during a deposition earlier this year as part of Tillman’s lawsuit.

Burge is at the top of the list of the defendants, but Daley is defendant number two.

Asked if he believes there is proof that Daley was aware of or instrumental in a cover-up of police torture under Burge, Taylor said, “There is evidence. I know there is evidence, that’s what we based our lawsuit on. In fact, he was personally given evidence (of torture) as early as 1982.”

Taylor said a federal judge recently ruled under the Civil Rights statutes that victims of police brutality may sue government officials. Thus, unlike the judges from the past five to 10 years who have rejected moves to sue Daley, Pallmeyer accepted proof and allegations of Daley’s involvement, both when he was State’s Attorney and mayor.

Daley’s presence on the list of defendants is unprecedented. Until Pallmeyer’s ruling last month, other judges had ruled he couldn’t be sued personally because he had immunity from civil lawsuits in his role as prosecutor. But Pallmeyer ruled that immunity did not extend to Daley’s time as mayor.

Daley’s attorneys have filed a motion asking Pallmeyer to reconsider her ruling.

Another Burge victim, Darrell Cannon, said Daley’s inclusion as a defendant is long overdue.

“Daley was definitely aware that we was bringing in a group of detectives for me to identify as having been the ones that tortured me,” Cannon said.

But Cannon said Daley never took any action on torture allegations.

Tillman’s lawsuit makes similar allegations.

Tillman, the ex-defendant who wants to sue Daley, served two dozen years in prison for a 1986 rape and murder. But his conviction was tossed last year.

Daley has been named in three other brutality lawsuits.

It’s the latest in Taylor’s 25-year battle to bring justice to those he says were tortured and wrongly convicted. The battle has cost the city more than $40 million so far and will continue to cost taxpayers.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports that current Mayor Rahm Emanuel says the city will pay for Daley’s legal fees. He cautioned that expenses will be closely monitored.

“We have an obligation as a city to pay for that legal representation,” he said.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports


Meanwhile, the Illinois Supreme Court was asked by former prosecutors and judges Wednesday to give new hearings to 15 men currently in prison, who claim their confessions were beaten out of them. They have all been incarcerated at least 20 years each.

Former Gov. James Thompson and former U.S. Sen. Adlai E. Stevenson III are among those asking the state’s high court to allow hearings for each of the men.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports


Then, says Locke Bowman of Northwestern University Law School, “retry them; if there’s other evidence to convict them, then they’ll be reconvicted. On the other hand, if their convictions rest solely on tortured evidence, or can’t be sustained except on tortured evidence, then their convictions can’t stand.”

Burge was convicted of perjury last year for lying about torturing prisoners into making confessions. He was sentenced in January to 4 1/2 years in prison, and reported to a federal penitentiary in Raleigh, N.C., in March.

Since Burge was fired from the Police Department in 1993, his name has become synonymous with police brutality in Chicago.

Dozens of suspects accused Burge and the detectives under their command of shocking them with a homemade electrical device, suffocating them with typewriter bags, putting guns to their head and playing Russian roulette — all to force them to confess to murders they didn’t commit.

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