So, it seems that we will be able to read all the gory details of the investigation into the years of torture that occurred in rooms within Area 2 and Area 3 Chicago Police Headquarters. This seems to be a victory for the activists that have been pushing for the reports release. But, is it really?
It seems evident that since a report is being released by the special prosecutor that no charges are going to be filed. I agree with some lawyers that state charges would be hard to achieve given that most of the crimes occurred nearly 20 years ago or more. Lawyers like Flint Taylor from the Peoples Law Office, has represented several torture victims throughout the years, argues that ongoing denials being made by the offending officers extends the statute of limitations because the conspiracy and cover-up are continuing through today. This is an interesting legal maneuver that might just aid the special prosecutor in bringing state charges.
This issue aside, my question is where are the Federal authorities? Is there a statute of limitations on civil rights violations? I never believed that this investigation would ever lead to anything other than a report. Does anyone in Chicago believe that any authority outside the Feds would ever prosecute police officers for brutality?
What will be missing from the report?
1. A clear description of the role members of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office played in the commission of these crimes? a. Each false confession forced by Burge and his minions was in some fashion recorded on paper with the cooperation of a Felony Review State’s Attorney. What did they know and when did they know it? This group of actors benefited mightily from the false confessions they gathered because they earned credit to move out of that low rung within the office they occupied at the Felony Review level.
2. What role did the judiciary play in facilitating the continuation of the offending officers behavior? a. This question has never been answered. In fact, little if any attention has been paid to the judges that for three decades rejected the claims of torture victims. Instead, the judiciary believed a group of mostly white officers when they said they knew nothing about a little black box or electrocution. What role did racism play in the judiciary’s decision making? How was it that 195 victims paraded through the courtrooms of 26th and California and not one judge ever raised the need for independent investigation into the actions of officers? Could it be that most of the criminal court judges are either former prosecutors or cops? Or maybe it is just as simple as the defendants were bad people and the officers good, so the end justified the means. You can bet the judges have a much easier time associating themselves with the cops then the defendants.
3. What did former Cook County State’s Attorney and now Chicago’s Mayor Richard J. Daley know and when did he know it? What legal responsibilities did Daley have as State’s Attorney to investigate these crimes? Why did he not act? a. This seems to be the multi-million dollar question. The reason I say this is because as there are several lawsuits currently in play in Federal Court regarding victims of the torture. Well, Daley is going to have to testify to his knowledge and inaction. Now, being that it is Chicago we can expect a large check to be written with a secrecy agreement prior to any information being uncovered for public viewing. According to publish reports there is a letter in play from former Superintendent Richard Breezek to then Cook County State’s Attorney Daley detailing Breezek’s suspicions about torture and suggesting Daley investigate. He never did. Was he legally obligated to investigate? Is he liable for not investigating?
4. Cook County State’s Attorney Richard Devine’s conflict of interest. a. Devine worked under Daley in the State’s Attorney’s Office. He then went to private practice and was a member of Jon Burge’s defense team during his civil trial against allegations of torturing one of the Wilson brothers. Devine then ran for and won the job of State’s Attorney. Is it not a common sense belief that Devine learned information through the confidences of attorney/client privilege that he cannot divulge? Information that might back up the claims of defendants in the courtrooms of 26th and California. Information that might directly contradict the arguments being put forward by Devine’s employees. Might Devine’s silence be aiding his employees’ actions in misrepresenting the truth in court as Devine learned it while representing Burge?
5. The Darrel Cannon saga a. As Darrel Cannon’s appeal became successful and a judge ordered a hearing into the allegations of torture, Devine cut a back door deal to avoid having to have the allegations see the light of day. Why? Did Devine know something from his representation of Burge years earlier that he did not want the public to know? Doesn’t Devine have an obligation to investigate crimes officers commit against suspects? Isn’t the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office supposed to be check and balance on the actions of the Chicago Police Department?