WBEZ | Burge Trial http://www.wbez.org/tags/burge-trial Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en City lawyers: Daley to give deposition on torture case http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-justice/city-lawyers-daley-give-deposition-torture-case-98084 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS3083_daleypresser_4-scr.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Lawyers for the former Chicago Mayor say Richard M. Daley will testify under oath about what he knew r<a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/potential-burge-settlements-would-get-daley-hook-95565">egarding a Chicago Police torture scandal</a>.</p><div>Lawyers for Daley and one of the alleged victims of torture under former Commander Jon Burge announced the agreement in federal court Tuesday, after months of Daley lawyers fighting the deposition.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The two sides are set to meet Thursday to discuss the deposition.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>"And we think that we are entitiled to question him on all aspects of the torture scandal from 1982 till the time he left has mayor last year," said Flint Taylor, an attorney for Michael Tillman, who was tortured into confessing to a crime he did not commit, then later exonerated.</div><div>&nbsp;</div><div>The meeting may address the scope of Daley's deposition and the type of questions he can be asked under oath, according to one of Daley's attorneys.&nbsp;Attorneys for the former mayor would not say when Daley would give testimony.</div><p>Daley was Cook County state's attorney in the 1980s before he became mayor, and Tillman's lawyers say they want to find out what he knew about the Burge torture scandal. But they say Daley and his attorneys had not been cooperating prior to Tuesday's announcement. They filed a motion last month to force Daley to answer questions under oath.<br><br>A lawyer for the city of Chicago said in court last month that the motion was "disingenuous" and said it seemed like an attempt to use Daley's name to generate publicity.</p><p>Burge is now in prison for lying about the torture.</p></p> Tue, 10 Apr 2012 07:07:01 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/criminal-justice/city-lawyers-daley-give-deposition-torture-case-98084 Burge trial: Police react to the verdict http://www.wbez.org/blog/burge-trial-police-react-verdict <p><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/cycletheghostround/4305710233/sizes/m/in/photostream/"><img class="size-full wp-image-28385" title="police car" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//police-car.jpg" alt="" width="500" height="400" /></a> <code><div> </div></code> Two days after Jon Burge was found guilty of two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of perjury, I asked a range of policemen who'd served with the former commander or at the same time for their reactions to the verdict. <!--break--> John Byrne, who served as Commander Jon Burge's sergeant for many years, who has also been accused of participating in torture, and who now works as a private investigator, wrote: First, Jon Burge should have never been tried in Chicago because twenty-plus years of relentless pounding from an increasingly liberal media precluded his receiving a fair trial here. Even Richard Speck, murderer of seven nurses, got only months of adverse publicity before his trial was moved to Peoria, Illinois, in 1967. Second, Judge Joan Lefkow's bias toward the prosecution in the courtroom was palpable. Jurors can be affected by such behavior in two ways: They can either be turned off by it and reject it, or they can accept it and run with it. They chose the latter in Burge's case, due in no small part to pre-trial adverse publicity they could not be reasonably expected to erase from their minds. Further, Judge Lefkow should have never allowed Andrew Wilson's testimony to be read into evidence because, inter alia, Wilson had only been cross examined in a civil case where Jon Burge's liberty was not at stake. [Lefkow ruled that as Wilson had been cross examined numerous times by lawyers who had Burge's interest, the testimony was admissible.] Third, had Jon Burge been an ordinary civilian he would not have been indicted for perjury, the basis for which was lying in interrogatories in a civil action. People lie all the time in interrogatories, depositions, and trials in civil matters on both sides of a suit, and they are not prosecuted for perjury. Even witnesses for the prosecution and defense lie in criminal trials with impunity. Lying is never right, but selective prosecution isn't either. Moreover, had Jon Burge been an ordinary citizen he would have been acquitted because there was more than enough reasonable doubt raised to negate a finding of guilt. Even Michael McDermott's testimony would have been a wash in any other criminal trial. [McDermott, who served under Burge, testified for the prosecution with a grant of immunity. He claimed he'd seen Burge put something transparent over the face of armed robbery suspect Shadeed Mu'min. Mu'min testified he'd been suffocated with a typewriter cover.] Society demands a lot of its police officers, and rightfully so, but when some in society get a peek at the underbelly of police work, i.e., homicide investigations, they squeal like stuck pigs, take convicted murderers' outrageous allegations as gospel, and demand the heads of dedicated police officers on a stick; and, unfortunately, a compliant liberal media have carried their water, giving convicted murderers a virtual stage to shout out their lies and embellish them, for over two decades. One would think that with all the major advances in forensic science the homicide clearance rate in Chicago would be higher than the 80%-plus it was twenty-five years ago but, sadly, it is not because homicide detectives, the proud bunch they once were, have come to realize they can't even shout at a suspect, lest they be disciplined or, worse, criminally charged. The homicide clearance rate is stuck around 35% in Chicago; and, I predict, it will remain there for generations. Society reaps what it sows. A retired police commander, who wishes to remain anonymous, wrote: The jury did its job - at least as it relates to Jon Burge. I'm very confident that the good men and women of the Chicago Police Department didn't know what Burge and his little crew were up to. But what about those much higher in the pecking order who did not investigate the numerous claims that people were being tortured. Who were Burge's immediate supervisors? Case closed??? John Eierman has known Burge since the two were in grammar school together. He later served with Burge in the third and fourth district, and both worked on the same floor of Area 2 for about two years, starting in 1973, but Eierman says he never hung out with Burge or his friends. Eierman retired from the force in 1995 after 22 years as a patrolman. He is now a highly regarded private investigator. In an interview, he said he found the claims of torture preposterous, and he told a story that he thinks illustrates Burge's disdain for brutality and excessive force. "One day I am assigned to the emergency room at South Chicago hospital. This was punishment duty because I'd been late for work. I couldn't sit there all night, so I'm walking the street in front of the hospital and some guy, kind of battered, comes up and says he's just been robbed, his van was taken from him by guys who had rifles and shotguns, they had also robbed a gas station and two or three other places, and they'd robbed a policeman and had his gun. They'd kept this guy for awhile and then kicked him out of the van. "I said, "ËœTake me back to where you got kicked out.' So he takes me about eight blocks away and stuck on a side street is the van, nobody in it. I'm thinking, "ËœThese idiots live right around here.' So I go around, I'm looking in the windows of houses, and in the basement of the third or fourth house, I see the guys, the rifle, the shotguns, and I call on the radio for help. "Burge comes with about ten other policemen. Burge and me knock on the door, the mother answers, I can't remember what we told her, but we got in. As soon as I hit the steps, the basement light goes off. Burge is in back of me and the rest of the cops are outside. "So we get down there and I dove behind the couch. I knew they were in the back, opposite from where I was at the time. I yelled, "ËœDrop your guns or I'm going to light you up like a Christmas tree.' The back of the basement light goes on, one guy has a gun and he drops it, and we take three guys into the 4th district to book them. "While we're doing the paperwork, one of these guys gets into it with one of the other officers, getting into a real pissing contest, saying he would beat the officer up if he wasn't wearing handcuffs. And he starts spitting, he's slobbering on me. And I'd had it. It took a ton of abuse for me to get pissed at a bad guy. I usually thought they were pretty sad cases. But this guy had been going on for a half hour. And I said to the other officer, "ËœGet out of here and shut the door.' And to the guy who's slobbering I said, "ËœTurn around, I'm going to take the cuffs off you, we'll see who's gonna beat up who.' "And I don't know if Burge heard me or if he just got lucky, because he opened the door and he said, "ËœJohn, what are you, crazy? You got a great arrest here, you're going to screw it up by beating this guy up?" And he takes the guy and puts him in the lockup. "Why didn't he shut the door and say, "ËœGo ahead and do it?' I was willing to do it. If he's the bad guy, the torturer, why didn't he let me get into it with this guy? "You know later, when I was in Area 2 all the time, I never heard screaming, I never heard stories about torture, I never saw anything like that. I wouldn't cover for Burge if I had seen something. I don't believe a hair of this torture shit happened." Howard Saffold joined the police in 1965 and retired in 1991. In 1968, he was one of the founders of what is now known as the African American Police League. In a phone interview last night, he said, "My first reaction to the verdict was that it was a slow justice, but a justice nonetheless in a case that was so egregious that it had put the whole justice system on trial, and jury is still out on whether or not the justice system will ever be viewed without skepticism from the public's perspective because of the time lag from the initial complaint [of torture] until the final adjudication." Saffold went on to commend the federal government for mounting a perjury and obstruction of justice prosecution when all avenues of indictment for the torture itself were precluded by the statute of limitations. By contrast, he said, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office had been convicted along with Burge. Its various leaders, particularly Richard Daley and Richard Devine, "knew, or should have known, the injustice being inflicted by Burge and his colleagues." Richard Brzeczek, now a defense attorney, was police superintendent in 1982 when Andrew Wilson was arrested. After receiving a letter from a Cook County jail doctor urging that Wilson's charges of torture should be investigated, Brzeczek opened an OPS investigation and sent the letter on to Richard Daley, then state's attorney, and asked for guidance. Daley did not respond to the letter. The OPS investigation went nowhere slowly, and was closed more than two years later, well after Brzeczek had been replaced as superintendent, with charges marked "unsustained." Brzeczek's response to the verdict was to make a proposal for reform. In an email, he pointed out that for decades, civil juries in police misconduct cases have often found in favor of the abused plaintiff and against the officers who committed the abuse, but usually the offending police officers suffer no consequences as a result. Taxpayers' funds are tapped to pay damages to the plaintiff. "History has shown us,"Brzeczek wrote, "that isolated civil suits and/or criminal prosecutions are not a deterrent to police misconduct," he wrote. He proposed that the damages paid to plaintiffs in police misconduct cases should be added up each year and the police payroll budget for the following year should be reduced by that amount. "This way the police officers, all of them, would pay the bill rather than the taxpayers. Maybe that would cause some change in the attitude that little to no risk exists. "In addition, since there is no remedy under the Civil Rights Act for a person victimized by police perjury, the state statute on perjury should be amended to the extent that upon conviction of a criminal defendant, the statute of limitations for perjury is tolled as to any potential prosecution of police witnesses whose testimony resulted in the conviction of that defendant. In the event that subsequent to conviction, it is determined that the defendant was framed or otherwise wrongfully convicted based on the false testimony of or withheld evidence by police officers, those police officers could then be prosecuted for perjury, obstructing justice, official misconduct, etc. as the statute of limitations would begin to run only when it is determined by a court that the defendant was wrongfully convicted." Former Area 2 detective Tom Bennett, also now a defense attorney, worked under Burge in the early 1980s but is not considered to be one of the A Team, also known as the midnight crew, the group of officers who have been accused of participating in the torture of suspects. "It is a sad day for John Burge, for the police department, and for the city of Chicago," Bennett said in a phone interview. "No one likes to see these things happen. "I wasn't friends with him, but I like him. He was a good cop. The police department was his life. He was a nice guy to work for, and I worked for a lot worse. If you were doing your job he was all for you. But he didn't like laggards or sloths. On the street, he was never afraid, he was willing to risk his life. It's a shame." Bennett, who left the unit in 1983, doubts the torture took place, not because he is familiar with the cases and the evidence, but because noise carried so well in the roughly 1,100 square feet the violent crimes unit occupied in the old Area 2 building on the corner of 91st and Cottage Grove. "If somebody said, "ËœF___ you,' you could hear it all over. If someone came in, you heard their feet before you saw them. Tile floor, plaster walls, nothing there to absorb the sound"¦.There are apartment buildings right next door, two second floor and third floor apartments, they didn't call anyone. And the fire department across the street, the firemen were almost all black. "Why didn't anyone say, "ËœI heard screams?' No one heard screams. If I were going to kick somebody's ass, you would hear screams. I would scream if somebody were kicking my ass." Bennett's question about the lack of screaming rose at Burge's trial. While some men alleged they had been tortured at a time when the station was relatively deserted, Andrew Wilson claimed he'd been given electric shock at a time when the station was packed with people. Sammy Lacey, an African American detective who came by the building that morning, claimed he'd heard a scream while he was on the street outside, but on cross examination he admitted that the news media had been there in force, both in and around the building. None of them ever reported hearing anything of the sort. On the other hand, Wilson claimed that while he was being shocked with a hand-cranked device, the current forced him to involuntarily grind his teeth, which could, of course, inhibit screaming. Doris Byrd and the late William Parker, African-Americans who served as detectives in Area 2, have previously said they heard painful noises coming from men being interrogated behind closed doors. Parker said that in approximately 1973, he heard "a shrill inhuman-type cry" that came from someone who was obviously in pain, that he opened the door to see what was going on and saw "a black male that was on the floor. His pants were open and down and he was handcuffed to the radiator." Burge and two other detectives were in the room, and one of the detectives seemed to be trying to hide something from view. Parker made that claim in a court-reported statement in 2004 given to People's Law Office attorney Flint Taylor. Parker was listed as a witness for the prosecution in Burge's trial, but he died three weeks before the trial began.</p> Thu, 01 Jul 2010 09:27:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/burge-trial-police-react-verdict Burge trial: Serial torturer or elderly perjurer? http://www.wbez.org/blog/burge-trial-serial-torturer-or-elderly-perjurer <p><strong> </strong> <a href="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//marcmartin.bmp"><img class="size-full wp-image-28151" title="marcmartin" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//marcmartin.bmp" alt="" width="480" height="360" /></a> <code> </code> <p style="text-align: left;"></p> <p style="text-align: left;">Jon Burge and federal prosecutors were back in court at 9:00 yesterday morning to revisit the terms of the former police commander's bond.‚  Until now, that bond consisted of the deed to Burge's house, which was valued at approximately $250,000.‚ <!--break--> As is typical in the wake of a conviction, the government sought to revise that, a formal recognition of the increased risk of the defendant taking flight that is the by-product of a guilty verdict.</p> Since his arrest on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, Burge has been required to call a federal pretrial services office in Florida twice a week, to visit that office once a month, and to open his door when visitors from that bureau knock without prior notice.‚  Federal prosecutor David Weisman proposed that electronic home monitoring be added to the mix, not just because of the increased flight risk, but also as a demonstration of a "general respect for the rule of law." Burge attorney Marc Martin argued that this was unnecessary, that Burge has not failed to meet any of the conditions already imposed, and that his brother was willing to post his house as additional security.‚  Jeffery Burge, a retired advertising executive, lives on the north side of Chicago and has approximately $275,000 in equity in his home.‚  The retired commander has been living there during the course of the trial. "Brothers are not likely to betray each other," Judge Joan Lefkow said, agreeing with Martin that home confinement was unnecessary.‚  Burge will now be able to resume his life in Florida, at least until he is sentenced in November. He faces a maximum penalty of 45 years, but that does not mean he will be sentenced to anything like that.‚  It seems likely that federal prosecutors will argue that not only was the perversion of justice committed by Burge when he lied in response to civil suit interrogatories a serious crime, but that the underlying offenses -- torturing suspects to confess to capital crimes -- was barbaric and did irreparable harm to a whole community's faith in the system of justice. Burge's attorneys will argue that the 62-year-old former policeman was a patriot, that he served with honor in Vietnam, that he was posted to a high crime area on the south side and did his best in trying circumstances, that he is approaching old age, and that he is afflicted with high-risk prostate cancer. Then it will be up to Judge Lefkow to decide his sentence.‚  She can recommend placement in a particular federal institution, but judicial recommendations are not binding on the Bureau of Prisons. According to Bureau spokesperson Felicia Ponce, men and women with chronic medical problems can be assigned to a prison with medical facilities that provide treatment, or they can be treated in a community hospital in the vicinity of a federal penitentiary.‚  A wide range of factors are considered in placing a prisoner.‚  The BOP's centralized designation center in Texas determines placement based on point totals assigned on the basis of a range of factors, including age, level of education, history of escape, history of drug or alcohol abuse, and history of violence.‚  Former law enforcement officials require an extra level of consideration as it is sometimes not safe to mix them with certain populations. Burge could conceivably rack up high scores in the "history of violence" category, given that he has been accused of being directly involved in the torture of many suspects, including 15 cases of electric shock (often to the genitals), 23 cases of suffocation by typewriter cover or plastic bag, and one case in which a suspect was burned against a radiator.‚  (Keep in mind that in some cases, multiple methods were used on the same victim.)‚  On the other hand, those are accusations, and Burge has never been convicted of a violent offense.‚  Whether the BOP ultimately sees him as a serial torturer or as an old perjurer or as something in between will depend in large part on the way his pre-sentencing report is written by the probation office.‚  In addition, the defense may object to parts of the report and provide material that requires consideration, and prosecutors could add input and materials as well. According to a BOP official familiar with the classification system, no decision will be made until after sentencing, after all the classification materials have been received.</p> Wed, 30 Jun 2010 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/burge-trial-serial-torturer-or-elderly-perjurer Burge trial: Guilty http://www.wbez.org/blog/burge-trial-guilty <p><a href="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//fitzgerald.bmp"><img class="size-full wp-image-28049" title="fitzgerald" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//fitzgerald.bmp" alt="" width="480" height="360" /></a> <code><div></div> </code> The jury reached a verdict today shortly after 3:00 pm, the second full day of deliberation, finding former police commander Jon Burge guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. Burge, in a dark suit, looked somber when the jury entered and showed no reaction to the verdict in the presence of the jurors. After the jury was excused, William Gamboney, one of the commander's attorneys, walked to the end of the defense table and patted his client on the back, as if to offer comfort. Burge smiled. <!--break-->The crowd in the courtroom was silent, perhaps because of the US Marshals warnings about expressing any emotion and perhaps because many of those who had opposed Burge for years arrived a few minutes too late to get into the courtroom. Bond was not revoked, and it seems unlikely that it will be, so Burge will remain free until his sentencing, which is scheduled for November. Maximum penalty for the three charges is 45 years. Prosecutors declined to say afterward what sentence they would ask for. In the hallway outside the courtroom, People's Law Office attorney Flint Taylor, who has represented several men who claimed torture by Burge and detectives under his command, said he was "very elated that this jury, with only one black person, spoke loudly and clearly, that after all these years, this torture has now been recognized in a court of law and the man responsible for it is going to prison." "It took so many years, but finally there is official recognition of this sordid chapter in Chicago history," said Rob Warden, director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions, which has been in the forefront of the battle to get the Cook County State's Attorney, the Illinois Attorney General, Cook County judges, and the Illinois Supreme Court to recognize that torture occurred (a battle usually lost). "Justice was delayed, but it was not denied. If this hadn't happened, it would have been a tremendous setback." Warden, who said he found it "strange to be rooting for prosecutors," predicted that Burge's conviction might provide relief for the approximately 20 men still in prison on the basis of suspect confessions taken by detectives working for Burge who have been accused of using a variety of methods of coercion. If those men are granted hearings, Warden said, it is likely that their confessions will be suppressed. Prosecution would then become difficult, depending on what other evidence is available in each case and depending upon whether detectives are willing to testify given the likelihood of prosecution for perjury by the U.S. Attorney. Warden also believed that the verdict today could open the door to new civil suits for wrongful conviction. The Burge verdict is a major victory for the U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald and the prosecutors who argued the case before Judge Joan Lefkow and a slap in the face of Cook County State's Attorneys who repeatedly turned a blind eye to the torture. The prosecution came 37 years after Burge first used electric shock to interrogate Anthony Holmes and decades after county prosecutors had evidence that serious crimes had been and were being committed by Burge and detectives under his command. Even as a dozen men awaited execution on the basis of suspect confessions, county prosecutors declined to investigate whether those confessions had been coerced and whether detectives had perjured themselves in testifying about how those statements had been extracted. "It's a theme in our nation's civil rights history that corrupt, bigoted or inept state systems that can't deal with their own problems require the intervention of the federal authorities," Locke Bowman, director of the MacArthur Justice Center and Northwestern law professor, said today. "This is another example. Most of the prosecutors and judges at 26th Street are deeply entrenched with the police and the status quo. It doesn't surprise me that in the end it took the U.S. Attorney's Office and the U.S. Department of Justice to do what the state authorities should have done 30 years ago." Fitzgerald's prosecution was built on a very slim thread. James Sotos and Michael Condon, Burge's city-funded attorneys, had him take the Fifth Amendment throughout civil suits that arose after Governor George Ryan pardoned four torture victims in 2003, but instituted that practice only after Burge had responded to the first two interrogatories filed in the four cases. In his answers to Madison Hobley's interrogatories, Burge denied observing or having knowledge of physical abuse and torture by Chicago police officers are Area 2. The documents were both improperly notarized by bank workers in Florida, where Burge lives, lacking essential information that notaries are supposed to record. At trial the two notaries acknowledged that they hadn't actually administered an oath, a fact which Burge's attorneys had played prominently in their opening arguments and returned to again in their motion for acquittal after the prosecution's case was complete. But the judge denied the motion, and the jury was later instructed that federal law does not require the formality of raising one's right hand and swearing to tell the truth, that someone who knowingly assumes the obligation of an oath and then provides false testimony is guilty of perjury. Burge had signed one of the documents under the words "I, Jon Burge"¦.state on oath"¦that the answers therein are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief." Thus while scores of felonies allegedly committed by Burge in interrogation rooms were not prosecutable by Fitzgerald due to the expiration of the statute of limitations, and the thousands of pages of testimony and depositions from the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s in which he'd denied the torture under oath were useless for the same reason, the U.S. Attorney was able to use less than 60 words from two documents to get a conviction that many thought would never come. At a press conference after the verdict was read, Fitzgerald indicated that he doesn't see this verdict as the end of the road, that the office is still investigating officers who served under Burge. "I just feel great," Gregory Banks said when reached early this evening. Banks was one of five victims whose cases were presented by assistant U.S. Attorneys David Weisman, April Perry, and Betsy Biffl at Burge's trial. Banks said he heard the news of Burge's conviction from his mother, who spotted it on television at 4:15 today. Banks, laid off 7 months ago from his job at Moo &amp; Oink, a wholesale and retail meat purveyor, is studying to become an alcohol and drug counselor. His life will not change as a result of the conviction, he said. Banks won a $92,500 settlement in his civil suit in the early 1990s. Afterward he had several convictions for burglary. "I am glad that they got him," Banks said, "But I am still looking for them to get the two men who tortured me." Banks was alluding to two other officers who he says beat and suffocated him in 1983, men who have not been indicted. Reached at his sister's home, Melvin Jones said he was "flabbergasted" by the verdict. "I hugged my wife, I jumped around and some things like that, but the main thing was that I got justice, something I have been wanting for 28 years." Jones, who never filed a civil suit and who is now homeless, testified that he was shocked on his foot, thigh, and penis by Burge in 1982. On the witness stand he admitted that he had been convicted of armed robbery, theft, and drug offenses. "I wasn't an angel," Jones said this evening, "but I didn't deserve the suffering he put me through. Everyone I turned to thought I was crying wolf." "I just kept hoping and praying he would have his day, and today is his day. He got a chance to reap what he sowed. I am just so thrilled about it because I told him his day would come, but he was so busy torturing me that he didn't hear me. But I think his ears have been opened up and he can hear it now." "It's like a breath of fresh air," Anthony Holmes said late tonight. "It's like a new life." Holmes, the first known electric shock victim, was tortured into giving a 60 page statement confessing to involvement in a murder and a variety of other crimes. Holmes was a leader of the Gangster Disciples as well as of the Royal Family, a gang that carried out armed robberies. He now works two jobs, doing maintenance in a clothing manufacturer's warehouse and delivering bundles of the Tribune to stores. Like Jones, he never filed a civil suit and has no option now of doing so, the statute of limitations on the torture having expired decades ago. "It won't stop the nightmares I been having," Holmes said, "but now he is going to have some of his own. He took our life away and now someone is taking his away. "It's been a long time coming. I thought they [the jury] were going to let us down. I figured he would just win again. But we got people who believe in us now."</p> Mon, 28 Jun 2010 22:50:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blog/burge-trial-guilty Jon Burge Trial: What the jurors don't know http://www.wbez.org/jconroy/2010/06/jon-burge-trial-what-the-jurors-dont-know/27882 <p>The prosecution built its case on the accounts of five torture victims, and the jury, now deliberating, must confine itself to the evidence and argument presented in the courtroom. The more than 100 other known cases are off limits, as are the 1990 report from the Office of Professional Standards and the 2006 conclusions drawn by the Cook County Special Prosecutor, both of which indicated that Burge and his detectives tortured suspects on a regular basis. <!--break--> At least some of the jurors, and perhaps all, have no idea that a lengthy list of victims exists, or that previous investigations have concluded Burge is guilty. Before trial, when potential jurors were called in and quizzed one-by-one about prejudices they might have, one African-American woman was disqualified after she said she'd been reading about the torture for years and had strong opinions about it. One white man, the trustee of a Chicago suburb who was ultimately selected, said he had no knowledge at all of Burge or the accusations. The judge asked if he read the newspapers. "No," he said, "but my wife does." The victim list, which now stands at 110, is maintained by attorneys from the People's Law Office. It did not come about because of some systematic method, some combing of all the Area 2 and Area 3 cases that Burge supervised. That would have almost certainly require government resources and subpoena power, and no government body ever showed that kind of interest, even after the Office of Professional Standards concluded in 1990 that abuse had been "systematic" in the Burge regime. Even then some victims would likely have been missed, as it wasn't just the ultimately convicted who were abused, but also suspects who were never indicted and some witnesses. The list instead came about in a more haphazard fashion: PLO attorneys representing cop-killer Andrew Wilson when his civil suit against Burge and the city was heard in 1989 began getting anonymous letters in police department envelopes that pointed them to victim Melvin Jones, who claimed to have been shocked on his foot, thigh, and penis by Burge. After Jones was interviewed, a transcript of his 1982 hearing was pulled, and in it he said that Burge had boasted of having tortured two other men. Those two men led the PLO to a few others in their circle who had also been abused. The attorneys also found one-day press coverage of a defense attorney who complained in 1984 that a shock device used on Wilson had been recently used on his two clients (reporters did not follow up the complaint). Slowly, word began to get out that certain attorneys were gathering this information. Over the course of the next decade the list began to grow as various prisoners contacted the PLO and as various other attorneys began to link cases together. A list of 11 cases cited by the PLO shortly after the arrival of the anonymous letters in 1989 grew to 61 in 1997 and 107 in 2006. In closing argument at this trial, Burge defense attorney Richard Beuke portrayed the five victims as co-conspirators in a plot to blacken the commander's reputation, men who crossed paths in prison and decided to come up with the same story in an effort to suppress their confessions and make money on civil suits afterward. Prosecutor April Perry effectively refuted that notion in her rebuttal -- three of the five had never filed civil suits, and depending on such a strategy to get a confession thrown out would have been foolhardy anyway as no one had any success with it but Gregory Banks, whose confession was ruled the by-product of torture only after he spent seven years in jail. But had the jury somehow known the length of the PLO list, the argument would have been seen as even more preposterous. PLO attorney Flint Taylor analyzed the list in November, 2006, when it included 107 victims, noting certain patterns. Burge was posted to Area 2 in the years 1972-1974, 1977-1980, and 1981-1986, and it turned out that the accusations followed his tenure. They began after he first arrived at Area 2, when he left, they subsided, and when he returned, the accusations did as well. In 1988, Burge was transferred to Area 3 to serve as commander of the detective division there, and at that point, accounts of torture and abuse picked up again, this time in the commander's new domain. Twenty-six of the 107 complaints on the list are from Burge years in Area 3. He'd brought various former Area 2 detectives to Area 3 when he assumed command there, and their names, which had appeared regularly in the Area 2 complaints, appear again in the accounts of torture from Area 3. Speaking of all 107 cases in his 2006 analysis, Taylor wrote, "Burge was named as directly involved in 35 cases, and was the supervisor in all of the remaining cases"¦. Torture by electric shock was alleged in 22 cases, and the threat of electric shock in 4 additional cases. In most of these cases, the electric shock was administered by a generator housed in a dark box, with a cattle prod or curling iron type device used on other occasions. Burge was alleged to be directly involved in 15 of these cases." "Suffocation by typewriter cover or plastic bags were alleged in 23 cases. Burge was directly involved in 10 of those suffocation cases"¦.Mock executions and gun threats were reported on 15 occasions. Most frequently, this terrifying act took the form of "Russian roulette" -- guns to the head or in the mouth"¦.On five other occasions, the victim was beaten with a pistol or a shotgun. "Beatings with a flashlight were reported 13 times, with a phone book 13 times, with a nightstick 6 times, with a rubber hose or lead pipe three times, and with a small baseball bat once. On 36 occasions, the victim alleged attacks on their genitals, by shocking, kicking, or striking with an object, while on 6 occasions, the victim was choked or gagged. On four occasions the victim alleged burning, on 3 occasions, the victim was subjected to ear cupping or thumb pressure"¦.On two occasions, the victim was suspended by his handcuffs"¦.and on one occasion, had his head placed in a toilet bowl. Sleep, food, and bathroom deprivation was also a common complaint." One man, Jesse Winston, died in an interrogation room at Area 2 in March, 1985. The police department concluded that he'd hung himself, and the medical examiner did not contradict them. Suicides in lockups, jails, and prisons occur with some frequency, but suicides in interrogation rooms are extremely rare. Three other men have alleged that they were threatened with hanging by detectives under Burge's command, and others said they had been choked or suffocated or hung by their handcuffs. Prosecutors who indicted Burge could of course not present evidence on 110 cases -- such a trial could take more than a year. It's not clear exactly how they chose the five they presented, but in response to my question over the weekend, Taylor made an educated guess at the possible logic: The Anthony Holmes case was chosen, Taylor thought, because it was the first, establishing the beginning of the torture in 1973, and because he had some corroboration in terms of immediate outcry (witnesses, including Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, who would say Holmes told them exactly what happened very soon after the torture occurred). The 1982 case of Melvin Jones was chosen because of its proximity to Wilson's (Wilson was tortured 9 days after Jones was), because Jones's attorney Cassandra Watson could back him up and testify to having talked with Burge about the "black box" torture device, and because Jones had been tested under fierce cross examination before, having testified at the Police Board hearing that resulted in Burge's firing in 1993. Wilson's case made the cut, Taylor thought, because it has the best medical evidence and because the photographs of his injuries are so compelling. Gregory Banks did not accuse Burge of being one of his torturers, but as it happened on the commander's watch and as he had also participated in Bank's arrest, the case offered a chance to show Burge's involvement as a supervisor. Banks's case had two other benefits as well: the Appellate Court had found that the confession had been coerced and medical evidence disputed the police account of how he had sustained his injuries. Shadeed Mumin's case, Taylor speculated, had one particularly outstanding virtue -- Mumin claimed he'd been suffocated with a clear plastic typewriter cover, and retired Detective Michael McDermott, testifying under a grant of immunity, told the grand jury that he'd seen Burge cover Mumin's face with plastic. The jury continues its deliberations on Monday. In order to return a verdict of guilty, they need to conclude that torture occurred in only one of the five cases presented.</p> Mon, 28 Jun 2010 09:59:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/jconroy/2010/06/jon-burge-trial-what-the-jurors-dont-know/27882 Burge trial: Closing arguments http://www.wbez.org/jconroy/2010/06/burge-trial-closing-arguments/27634 <p>The first words out of the mouth of prosecutor David Weisman reminded the jurors that this trial is about more than the charges at hand -- perjury and obstruction of justice, that it is about the use of electric shock, suffocation, mock executions, and inflicting radiator burns on five victims. The five cases the government chose to present spanned the years 1973 to 1985. The torture didn't stop during those years, Weisman said, "because this defendant was above the law. It didn't stop because it happened at Area 2 and he was in charge. It didn't stop because he lied about what happened then and he is lying now. He never envisioned these four weeks, when his conduct would be exposed in its full brutality."<!--break--> Weisman's job was to focus the jury on the evidence presented in the five cases, tie the testimony of the victims to the testimony of other witnesses who heard Burge indicate a disregard for a suspect's rights, and define some aspects of the law that the jury would have to apply. Weisman, a former FBI agent, was straightforward, deliberate, methodical, a guided missile politely boring in. Not much heat, but a lot of light. Richard Beuke closed for the defense. His strategy was to distract the jury from the horrors Burge is charged with and focus them instead on the crimes committed by the five victims. He started in immediately on the one who was guaranteed to arouse the least sympathy, Andrew Wilson, who killed police officers William Fahey and Richard O'Brien on February 14, 1982. Wilson died in November, 2007, and some of his previous testimony was read into the record at this trial. The cop-killer, Beuke said, was "somewhere in the darkest, dingiest corner of hell, laughing hysterically at how he has manipulated this system." In choosing his calling in the 1960s, Beuke said, Jon Burge "set out to make a difference, to give back to society," serving in Vietnam, being awarded medals there for bravery. And when he came back to Chicago, "he didn't stop trying to make a difference"¦. Jon Burge got an opportunity to serve and protect"¦..That is the code of the Chicago police department yesterday and today, it is a little different than the code of Anthony Holmes and Andrew Wilson." While Burge was doing such noble duty, former Gangster Disciple leader Anthony Holmes "was infesting the area known as Englewood. His calling was to turn the streets"¦.into a crime infested, drug infested, gun infested cesspool." It went on like that for two hours. The five former suspects who testified were mocked as "poor, poor victims." One was a "rat" and "a psychopathic armed robber trying to play the system." Another was by turns "a serial burglar"¦.a pathological liar"¦.a heroin addict"¦.a cough syrup addict." Andrew Wilson was "everybody's Mr. Wonderful." "Andrew Wilson is the victim in this case, not the families of Bill Fahey and Rich O'Brien." The former state;s attorney held up black and white, passport-size photos of the two officers, seemingly photocopied, miniature in the large courtroom. "This is all that remains of Officer O'Brien. This is all that remains of Officer Fahey. They have been relegated to a two-by-two photograph because he [Wilson] is the victim in this case." Beuke did concede Wilson had injuries inflicted on the day of his arrest, but they were all inflicted by the "two idiots" who transported him from Area 2, men who were not under Burge's command. (Both of those officers are now dead.) Beuke said that Wilson capitalized on the abuse, filing a civil suit against Burge, some Area 2 detectives, and the city for $10 million, thinking, "now I get paid for killing two police officers." After pronouncing Wilson's testimony "garbage" and theatrically pitching it into a wastebasket, Beuke went on to say that the cop-killer didn't get paid because the jury "didn't believe Andrew Wilson." This last bit wasn't the true outcome of that lawsuit, and Beuke knew it. The U.S. Court of Appeals threw out a jury verdict that had gone against Wilson. Chief Judge Richard Posner wrote that the judge had allowed William Kunkle, Burge's attorney, to load the jury with "a mass of inflammatory evidence having little or no relevance to the issues in this trial...and thus turn the trial of the defendants into a trial of the plaintiff." In July, 1996, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Gettleman decided the case in Wilson's favor, entering a judgment against the city for more than $1 million. Wilson didn't see a penny and had known for years that he wouldn't, as the family of one of the officers had filed a wrongful death suit against him. Beuke also knew that his proclamation about the outcome of the suit was testifying to facts not in evidence, which is against the rules. The government objected and the judge sustained the objection, an act repeated several times until the judge finally got testy and told Beuke to desist. He wound up his argument by saying that the case was the highlight of his legal career because he'd had the opportunity to represent Burge. The commander and his men were "honorable true heroes. They were the only people that the south side of the city had to stand for them in the face of the Anthony Holmes of the world"¦..and especially the Andrew Wilsons of the world." "Evil still lurks, these monsters are all over the south side, they are all out there [now] just like they were then. I don't know if that will ever change, but I do know that those people would be better off if this gentleman [Burge] was still there." It was a rousing appeal to the emotions, a sharp contrast to Weisman's straight, no-nonsense approach, and had the case gone to the jury at that moment, I think passion might have ruled. But the government still had its rebuttal portion, and prosecutor April Perry, the youngest member of the prosecution team, came on after the 45 minute lunch break to close the trial. "They can get up there and scream and curse all they want and talk about who is and who is not going to hell -- and a lot of people in this room have a lot of feeling about that -- but it is not evidence," Perry said. Yes, the five men had all been convicted of numerous crimes, she argued. "So what? What does that have to do with this case?" The case, she said, is about what happened to them. How is it, she asked, that of all the crimes the five victims had been convicted of, they all independently chose one case in which to argue they were tortured, and that one case involved the same officer -- Burge. "Who was he?" Perry asked, pointing out that although he is notorious now, he was relatively unknown then. "Was he born under some unlucky star that made all these people blame him?" Beuke had argued that the five victims had hatched a conspiracy together, that they crossed paths in Cook County Jail, and their efforts were aimed at beating their cases and winning large sums in civil suits thereafter. Perry pointed out the foolhardiness of embarking on such a conspiracy. The first of the five, Anthony Holmes, spoke out about his torture in 1973, never filed a civil suit, and spent more than three decades in jail. Melvin Jones spoke out in 1982, never filed a civil suit, his motion to suppress his confession made no difference in the outcome of his case. Andrew Wilson also spoke out in 1982, within 24 hours of being tortured, his injuries present for the world to see. He was ignored. So when Gregory Banks spoke out in 1983, there was hardly a winning strategy to embark on, and if it was such a winner, Perry asked, why did he name three other detectives, not Burge, as his torturers, and why did the winning strategy result in him spending seven years in prison before his case was overturned? Shadeed Mu'min, tortured in 1985, was a stranger to Chicago, a member of no gang. When he made his allegations, there was not a single case to inspire him, nothing to indicate that he was going down some known road to success. His motion to suppress was rejected, he was convicted, he served his time, and he has never filed a civil suit. "Are they bad people?" Perry asked. "That is not up to you to decide"¦.We did not pick these victims. The defendant picked them"¦.he believed no one would ever believe their word against his." Beuke had asked the jury to "End this nightmare, end this charade," and "Give Mr. Burge his life back." Perry asked the jury to not stand by, as other "good men" had for decades while the torture continued. "You have seen the evil, you have heard the evil, and now we ask you to speak the truth," she said. The jury walked out at 3 pm, deliberated for a little over an hour, and called it a day. They resume deliberations this morning.</p> Fri, 25 Jun 2010 08:03:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/jconroy/2010/06/burge-trial-closing-arguments/27634 Burge trial: Bad hands on both sides http://www.wbez.org/jconroy/2010/06/burge-trial-bad-hands-on-both-sides/27475 <p>It's been an interesting battle between two talented trios of lawyers, attorneys who, when the jury is not around, seem perfectly at ease and friendly with each other. Today, they do their final battle. <a href="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//bad_poker.jpg"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-27479" title="bad_poker" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//bad_poker.jpg" alt="" width="425" height="282" /></a><code><div></div></code><!--break--> On the face of it, both sides began with bad hands. Prosecutors David Weisman, Betsy Biffl, and April Perry built their case on the stories of five victims -- Anthony Holmes, Melvin Jones, Andrew Wilson, Gregory Banks, and Shadeed Mu'min. As Biffl said in her opening, people who commit crimes are not nice people, "not clergymen, not nice old grandmothers." Some of her witnesses, she acknowledged, had committed "egregious crimes." Those crimes included the murder of two police officers, armed robberies, burglaries, and auto theft. No doubt she would have preferred five upstanding citizens with clean criminal records, but those aren't the sort of people who typically ended up in interrogation rooms at Area 2 in the Burge era, and if they did, it's unlikely they would have been tortured -- they'd have been too believable on the witness stand. Defense lawyers Richard Beuke, William Gamboney, and Marc Martin would probably have preferred to have different witnesses testifying for the commander as well. Assistant state's attorney Larry Hyman (who took Andrew Wilson's confession) and seven former detectives (all of them white) took the Fifth Amendment, the African-American former police superintendent Leroy Martin indicated he would as well, and it appears that another assistant state's attorney and former judge, who claims to have been present when Wilson was arrested and who vouched for Burge in the past, did the same or signaled his intentions to. Patrick O'Hara, one of the two officers who interrogated Wilson, who was not accused of brutalizing him, is dead. Also dead is John Yucaitis, an officer who was accused of giving Wilson electric shock. In the end, Burge produced only one officer to vouch for him, retired commander Frederick Miller, an elderly African American (he'd joined the force in 1957). Miller testified that he saw Wilson in the station that day and that he had no visible marks, but even Burge concedes that Wilson had a cut above his eye, supposedly inflicted during the arrest. And Miller seemed confused. He claimed to have been on the raid to arrest Wilson, which occurred at about 5:00 am, but later said he arrived at work at 8:30 that morning. He described Burge as a "hands on manager," perhaps an unfortunate choice of words in a trial dealing with torture. Another African American called to the stand by Burge, retired Cook County judge Wilbur Crooks, is a former CPD officer also, but he was testifying not to his police work or to Burge's reputation but to a confession he took in 1985 when he was working as a Cook County State's Attorney. Burge presented no officers who interrogated the five victims -- some took the Fifth, and some would not have been believable either. Two who were involved in Gregory Banks's case, for example, told conflicting stories about how he fell down a flight of stairs, sustaining injuries that a doctor who examined Banks has said were inconsistent with such a fall. The government has certain hurdles to overcome in each of the five cases. Attorneys for Holmes, who alleged electric shock and suffocation, did not file a motion to suppress his confession, which would have been the likely thing to do given their client's allegations. This can be used to suggest that Holmes made no immediate outcry to the only people who could help him suppress the allegedly tortured confession. Andrew Wilson's case was well fogged-up by the defense: anyone trying to sort through the medical evidence could only be confused (some medical personnel saw burns on the chest, some did not), and as the transport drivers, both now dead, inflicted new injuries after Wilson left Area 2, it can be baffling to figure out who inflicted what and when it was inflicted. Gregory Banks, with multiple convictions for burglary and years of drug use, told a story that involved Burge only in the most peripheral way, not as a hands-on torturer. Under cross-examination by Gamboney, Banks lost his cool completely and became obstructive, refusing to properly answer questions. It seems unlikely that he impressed the jury. Melvin Jones came to the witness stand on May 27th with a lot of baggage: much was made of him being a suspect in the murder of a state witness; he had a record for armed robbery, theft, and drug dealing; he'd been a heroin addict; he'd had a brain aneurism; and he is now homeless. Nevertheless he was no slouch on the witness stand. Unlike Banks, he kept his cool under Gamboney's pressure, not wavering from his story that Burge had shocked him on his foot, thigh, and genitals. His attorney, Cassandra Watson, followed to back up his story. Watson, an African American who passed the bar 33 years ago, now works as an administrative law judge for Cook County. Unlike Holmes's attorneys, she did file a motion to suppress, she was very certain of herself, and she testified to a running banter with Burge about "the black box" (a shocking device) and whether he was going to use it on any particular day. She testified that Burge once told her, "The black box leaves no marks." On cross-examination Gamboney took her to task for not stepping down as Jones's attorney in order to testify in his case about her knowledge of the black box, but she fired back that she'd not been idle, she'd reported it to the FBI, to a Circuit Court judge, and to the Police Department's Office of Professional Standards. The Jones story was later attacked by Burge witness Ricky Shaw, but not to great effect. Shaw, who appeared in an orange prison jumpsuit, told the jury that when he met Jones in Cook County Jail in 1987, Jones was organizing a campaign against the Area 2 detectives, recruiting people to complain about abuse and torture there. Shaw, however, has had a long career as a jailhouse informant and has been disciplined several times for providing authorities with false information. Shadeed Mumin, a bearded and hefty senior citizen and the last victim to testify, came with a lengthy career as an armed robber that seemed to clash with his slow demeanor and unthreatening appearance. He admitted he'd lied under oath before when he'd denied robbing a Brown's Chicken on the south side, which certainly hurts his credibility, and the aforementioned Burge witness Wilbur Crooks also helped the defense chip away at the Mumin story. Crooks, being African American, would seem to be someone unlikely to have gone along with torture, and he testified that the statement he took, signed by Mumin, clearly stated that the confession was given voluntarily. However, that confession was given the morning after the torture Mumin described, so it was not as if Crooks could say he heard no screams, and the torture Mumin alleged -- suffocation with a typewriter cover and Russian roulette -- typically leaves no marks, so Crooks could not be expected to have seen open wounds. And backing up Mumin's account was the government's star police witness, former Area 2 detective Michael McDermott, testifying under a grant of immunity. McDermott tried to say as little as he could to hurt Burge but couldn't dodge the fact that he'd told the grand jury that he'd seen Burge abuse Mumin, that he'd seen Burge put a piece of plastic over the suspect's face, and that Burge had pointed his weapon in Mumin's direction. Burge could offer no explanation for McDermott's testimony about the plastic, other than to suggest that the detective was under a great deal of pressure. For all of the problems in each of the five cases, the government has a certain advantage. Burge has to refute all five, but the jury has to believe only one victim was tortured to sustain a conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice. (Burge is charged with lying about the torture in two written interrogatories, documents filed in a civil suit in 2003, in which he denied any torture had ever taken place.) In closing for the Burge team, Richard Beuke can be counted on to portray Burge as an honorable man, decorated for heroism, and to lambast all five victims. (Beuke has been a good and loud lambaster throughout.) In opening arguments, Gamboney argued that if the victims were to be believed, then the Burge crew had more electrical devices than Radio Shack -- an attack on variations in the descriptions of the shock machines that Holmes, Jones, and Wilson described. Beuke will probably come back to that idea as well, and portray that trio as being in cahoots, all having been members of the Gangster Disciples. The former assistant state's attorney will also to try to run an end-around, attacking the documents on which Burge's indictment is based. In opening arguments, Gamboney portrayed them as loaded with confusing legalese and argued that the government would not be able to show Burge was ever sworn to tell the truth. Burge's signature rests underneath a paragraph that says he is filing it under oath, but the notary testified that no oath was actually given. Beuke can be expected to argue that without an oath there is no perjury. He may also highlight Burge's testimony that the words were not his, but those of his lawyer. The government will have to address both of those issues as well. Each side has been allotted two hours for closing. When that's up, the jury will have to decide whether Burge is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.</p> Thu, 24 Jun 2010 08:11:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/jconroy/2010/06/burge-trial-bad-hands-on-both-sides/27475 Burge trial: All over but the shouting http://www.wbez.org/jconroy/2010/06/burge-trial-all-over-but-the-shouting/27227 <p><p><a href="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//JuryBox1.jpg"><img class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-27228" title="JuryBox" src="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//JuryBox1.jpg" alt="" width="400" height="300" /></a><code> </code><br /> A beefy Michael Hartnett, now an executive in the cable television industry, was the star of the courtroom today. <!--break-->Hartnett was a court reporter in 1982, and was assigned to the state's attorneys working on the investigation of the murders of police officers William Fahey and Richard O'Brien. On cross-examination, prosecutor Betsy Biffl chipped away at the professional image Hartnett had presented when questioned by defense attorney Richard Beuke about his work on the case of Andrew Wilson, who was convicted of the two killings. Hartnett acknowledged that he'd told the grand jury investigating Burge that he "didn't give a damn what happened to Andrew Wilson" and that he was "surprised to see him alive."</p> <p>Under questioning from Biffl, Hartnett also acknowledged that it was standard procedure for a prosecutor to ask if a statement from a murder suspect was being given voluntarily. The question is typically asked in two or more forms (some examples of the prosecutor's typical litany include: Are you giving this statement voluntarily, of your own free will? Have you been coerced in any way? Were you well treated by the police? Have you been offered something to eat? Have you been offered something to drink?).‚  Biffl then walked <a href="/jconroy/2010/06/jon-burge-trial-the-man-who-isn%E2%80%99t-there/26973" target="_blank">Harnett through the statements he'd taken on the day of Wilson's arrest</a>, drawing out that state's attorney Larry Hyman had failed to ask any such questions of the Wilson brothers (Andrew was the shooter, Jackie an accomplice) that day, but had asked them of a witness. It turned out that Hartnett also typed the murder confession of Gregory Banks, who testified to being suffocated and beaten by Burge detectives earlier in the trial. Biffl got Hartnett to read seven voluntariness questions that had been put to Banks.</p> <p>It's never clear what the jury gathers from testimony. While they might think something peculiar was afoot in the Wilson case ("Why didn't the prosecutor ask those questions?), it's almost certain they won't realize how peculiar the absence of those questions is. No expert testified as to how bizarre it is not to see those questions. Furthermore, if the government is seen to put some stock in the fact that Banks was indeed asked seven voluntariness questions and claimed he was well treated by the police, doesn't that diminish his claim of torture? Will the jury recognize that when a detective is sitting a few feet away and your torturers are in the next room, it might not seem like a good idea to say anything but that you were well treated by the police?</p> <p>With the jury excused for lunch, debate began on whether retired police sergeant Doris Byrd, who testified earlier in the trial for the prosecution, could be brought back to refute testimony from former commander Burge.‚  I <a href="/jconroy/2010/06/burge-trial-the-witness-in-leg-irons/27164">reported earlier today</a> that she'd given a sworn statement in 2004 claiming she'd witnessed then Lieutenant Burge point his gun at a detective he didn't like back in 1982.</p> <p>Prosecutor April Perry argued that she should be allowed to return, that her story fell within the guidelines of what would constitute proper rebuttal to the defense claim that Burge was always careful with his weapon.</p> <p>Defense attorney Marc Martin argued that it was collateral -- not directly relevant to the charges of perjury and obstruction in the indictment.‚  Martin indicated that if the government was seeking to introduce an earlier act of supplying false answers he might concede the point, but this incident had nothing to do with that, nor did it have anything to do with the abuse of a suspect, the issue underlying the indictment -- Laverty was a police officer, not a wanted man.‚  Judge Lefkow eventually agreed with Martin, and thus the jury did not see Byrd a second time and Laverty will be a ghost to them, mentioned on cross examination of Burge but undefined and unmentionable hereafter.</p> <p>Testimony has now ended.‚  Closing arguments begin Thursday, and then it's all up to the chosen twelve.‚  The government wins a large majority of the cases it brings in this building, but this one is no slam dunk.</p></p> Tue, 22 Jun 2010 15:45:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/jconroy/2010/06/burge-trial-all-over-but-the-shouting/27227 Burge trial: The witness in leg irons http://www.wbez.org/jconroy/2010/06/burge-trial-the-witness-in-leg-irons/27164 <p>After former police commander Jon Burge left the stand yesterday, the jury was excused for a break.‚  While they were gone, defense witness Ricky Shaw entered from a side door and clanked across the room to the witness stand.‚  Not wanting the jury to know he was fettered and handcuffed, Judge Joan Lefkow had him raise his right hand and take the oath before the panel re-entered.‚  She then posted a federal marshal in front of him blocking the jury's view.<!--break--> Once the panel was seated, they cast their eyes on an African American, 44 years old, of medium height, with a mustache that ran to his jawbone, clad in a deep orange prison jumpsuit. ‚ Soon thereafter Shaw, who has made a prison career as an informant, began to tell some magnificent tall tales. His primary role in the Burge defense team's strategy was to discredit Melvin Jones, one of the five victims on whose testimony the prosecution has built its case, and to suggest that there was a prison-organized campaign to file false charges of torture against Burge and the detectives under his command at Area 2.‚  To that end, Shaw claimed that he became a good friend of Jones in Cook County Jail in 1987.‚  "He told me he had lawyers and everybody trying to get on the case and there were others who were dying to get on it and that there were movie deals and book deals" in addition to a civil suit.‚  He later claimed he hadn't seen Jones's movie on TV but seemed to say he had seen it anyway and he had read Jones's book. It was a wonderful story, but it seemed to be untrue.‚  Melvin Jones is featured in no movie, no book exists with Melvin as the hero, and when the two alleged prison pals got to talking in 1987, Jones couldn't have filed a civil suit if he'd wanted to -- the statute of limitations had expired.‚  (Jones, who is now homeless, has never sued anyone for the torture.‚  When he testified earlier in this trial he said he'd didn't know a Ricky Shaw.)‚  Flint Taylor, a founder of the People's Law Office, which represented cop-killer Andrew Wilson in his 1989 civil suit against Burge and the city, said in an interview last night that not only was Jones no cause cƒ©lƒ¨bre, he was a complete unknown.‚ ‚  "In 1989, we thought the only torture case was Andrew Wilson," Taylor said.‚  "We probably still wouldn't know about Melvin Jones if it weren't for the anonymous cop." The "anonymous cop" was the officer, never identified, who began sending the PLO tips once the Wilson civil suit came to trial.‚  The officer had inside knowledge of the goings-on at Area 2 and provided a list of "Burge's Asskickers" (those who tortured) and the "Weak links" (those who did not).‚  In his or her third letter, the writer suggested that Taylor should talk to a Cook County Jail inmate named Melvin Jones, someone the PLO attorneys had never heard of.‚  When they did send someone over, they discovered that Jones had discussed being tortured at a hearing on a motion to suppress his confession in 1982, and when they pulled the transcript they found Jones had said that Burge claimed that Anthony "Satan" Holmes had had the same treatment and ended up crawling on the floor.‚  The PLO found Holmes, and he knew of other victims, and so the torture scandal began to gather steam.‚  Holmes was the opening witness against Burge at this trial.‚  He too has never filed a civil suit. Prosecutor David Weisman did a good job discrediting Shaw simply by bringing out the inmate's pattern of being disciplined for providing false information to authorities in various institutions he has been housed in (he's in his 23<sup>rd</sup> year of a 50 year sentence for four armed robberies, and he expects to get out in 2011).‚  The jury doesn't yet know the fine details spelled out here about the nonexistent Jones civil suit, Jones movie, and Jones book.‚  It may be that the prosecution will get that in during the rebuttal portion of the case, or they may figure they did enough damage to Shaw on cross-examination today and they don't need to do more. In retrospect you can't help but wonder what the Burge team was thinking.‚  They'd just had the commander testify -- their power hitter -- and they followed him up with a witness with staggering credibility problems.‚  One lawyer who has regularly dropped into the courtroom to observe told me, "Burge says you can't believe those torture victims, they're criminals.‚  Then he puts on Shaw and says, "ËœYou can believe my criminal.‚  You just can't believe theirs.'" PDF: <a href="/sites/default/files/archives/blogs//3.15.89.AnonymousLetter.pdf">3.15.89.AnonymousLetter</a>.</p> Tue, 22 Jun 2010 09:15:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/jconroy/2010/06/burge-trial-the-witness-in-leg-irons/27164 Burge trial: The commander and his weapon http://www.wbez.org/jconroy/2010/06/burge-trial-the-commander-and-his-weapon/27055 <p>Prosecutor David Weisman resumed his cross-examination of former commander Jon Burge yesterday morning, drilling in on how Burge handled or mishandled his weapon. Earlier in the trial, Burge was accused of putting a revolver to Shadeed Mumin's head and playing a sort of Russian Roulette, and Andrew Wilson has claimed in previous testimony that Burge put a gun in the cop-killer's mouth, but under questioning from the defense, Burge has portrayed himself as a responsible handler of his weapons who would never be so stupid as to engage in such reckless behavior. <!--break-->Weisman, however, asked about an incident the jury hasn't heard about before, a 1982 incident in which Burge allegedly pointed his weapon at the back of a detective who had fallen out of favor with a good number of his fellow detectives at Area 2. Burge denied he'd ever done anything of the sort, but Weisman may have a card up his sleeve. Retired police sergeant Doris Byrd, an African American who served as a detective under Burge's command, gave a sworn statement to attorney Flint Taylor on November 9, 2004, describing that particular incident. <blockquote>Byrd: One day we were in the room and Laverty was in there looking for a file. And when he left out the room, Burge drew his weapon and pointed it at the back of Laverty and said, "Bang." Taylor: "¦.Was that a message? Did you take that as a message bout what would happen if police officers came forward and broke the code of silence and exposed police misconduct?' Byrd: Yes.</blockquote> Area 2 Detective Frank Laverty became notorious in the police department for coming forward in April, 1982 to say that the wrong man was on trial for murder. The judge threw the case out against the accused teenager, who was the son of a Chicago police officer who later became a lieutenant. The judge said he firmly believed the state, which was asking for the death penalty, had arrested the wrong man. The U.S. Court of Appeals later praised Laverty for going "above and beyond the call of duty" and upholding "the highest ethical standards of the United States justice system." The police department, however, did not investigate the officers who had made the blunder, but instead started an investigation of Laverty. He eventually asked for a transfer from Area 2 and served out the rest of his police career at police headquarters working in the personnel department. He died of cancer on December 5, 2007. Yesterday's testimony suggests that Weisman intends to bring Sergeant Doris Byrd back in the rebuttal portion of the trial. She testified several weeks ago to little effect.</p> Tue, 22 Jun 2010 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/jconroy/2010/06/burge-trial-the-commander-and-his-weapon/27055