The [Friday] Papers
In closing arguments on Thursday, "Burge's lawyer described the abuse allegations from deceased convicted cop killer Andrew Wilson and four other career criminals as 'pathological,' 'nonsense' and 'garbage,' the Sun-Times reports.
"But federal prosecutors stressed that Burge's accusers were backed up by the testimony of friends, former defense lawyers, doctors and nurses," the Tribune reports.
I don't have any doubt that Jon Burge tortured scores of men in Area 2, nor that he has committed perjury. But I'd say reasonable doubt lays the odds of a conviction at 50-50.
I haven't been in the courtroom so my assessment of the case is far from expert, but my sense from the coverage I've read is that the prosecution hasn't been terribly impressive.
Maybe that's because of the constraints of a perjury case meant to prove something far more sinister.
Or maybe it's because of the certainty necessary in a case like this to persuade many juries.
John Conroy puts it this way: "Bad hands on both sides."
Conroy makes an interesting point about Burge's defense, though:
"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."
Also unfortunate, for Burge, in that he obsessed (and rightly so) over the shooting deaths of two Chicago cops but claimed without explanation that in this particular case, unlike most other cases, he didn't participate in the interrogations of the suspects.
Will the jury suss this sort of thing out?
Who knows. If Conroy's reporting over the last two decades could be entered as evidence, Burge would be already be behind bars. The case at-hand is a more difficult proposition.
"Burge presented no officers who interrogated the five victims - some took the Fifth, and some would not have been believable either," Conroy notes. "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."
And the prosecution's star witness turned out to be an impressive Cassandra Watson, former attorney for Melvin Jones.
"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."
Still, the prosecution didn't deliver a clear-cut knock-out blow when they finally got Burge on the stand. The jury could very well throw its hands up and concede confusion.
"In one report, OPS investigator Francine Sanders concluded that while interrogating Andrew Wilson, a man who had killed two policemen, Burge applied electric shock and burned Wilson's face, chest, and thigh by holding him against a hot radiator. In the second report, OPS investigator Michael Goldston concluded that Burge and other detectives at Area Two had engaged in 'systematic' abuse, including 'planned torture,' for at least 13 years," Conroy reported in 1996.
"That torture was administered by certain Area Two policemen is not a wild claim made by some lunatic and radical fringe; it is a fact known to well-established, well-meaning, and well-off members of the community."
"Andrew Wilson, the convicted killer of two policemen, has emerged victorious in his long battle against the city and the detectives who he claimed had tortured him. U.S. District Court judge Robert Gettleman has ordered the city to pay more than $1 million as a result of the electric shock, burning, and beating that even the city's lawyers now acknowledge were administered to Wilson by former police commander Jon Burge and detectives from Area Two," Conroy reported in 1997.
"His story exposed the city's best and worst. Two policemen, unknown to this day, rose to the defense of a man they probably hated. A nurse at Mercy Hospital did the same. On the other hand, there was the outrageous duplicity of the city's legal team, which proclaimed from the beginning that the torture never happened and now screams loudly that it did."
And in 2003, Conroy wrote this:
"This much is well-known: Detectives under the direction of Commander Jon Burge used torture - or, in the words of the city of Chicago's own lawyers, 'savage torture' - to get confessions from suspects. The pattern of complaints indicates that the method was first deployed in 1973. The last alleged incident was in 1991. Ninety people are known to have complained of abuse, their charges including electric shock, suffocation, burnings, attacks on the genitals, severe beating, and mock executions. Four of the men on this list were awaiting execution until they were pardoned by Governor George Ryan, who believed they were innocent. The sentences of seven other alleged victims were commuted to life imprisonment when Ryan emptied death row.
"Among the many mysteries surrounding the torture cases, one question looms large. Where were the prosecutors? Could a torture ring exist for nearly two decades without anyone in the state's attorney's office noticing? A state's attorney who looked the other way as a false confession was extracted would share responsibility for both the imprisonment of an innocent man and the subsequent crimes of the guilty man. Police allowed by prosecutors to torture would likely torture again and inspire other officers to do the same - for torture yields fast if not always accurate results. Did state's attorneys look the other way in Cook County? Did their office know - or have good reason to suspect - that torture was deployed under Jon Burge's command?"
"John Killackey faced up to one year in jail after being found guilty last month of aggravated assault and theft of service for the April 23, 2009, incident. Instead, Judge Thomas Byrne imposed 18 months' probation and 60 hours' community service."
Here's the important part:
"Killackey, the son of a former police commander, told Clermont during the incident: 'I don't owe you shit' when [cabbie Karl] Clermont demanded an $8 payment for the six-minute ride from Crescendo nightclub to his home at Damen and Armitage, evidence showed . . .
"When three of Killackey's fellow officers arrived, they detained him, found his gun and badge and realized he was a cop. 'They looked like they were about to cry,' Clermont told the judge.
"When their boss, Sgt. Robert Peabody, arrived, he handed Killackey his gun and badge and let him go, denying Clermont the chance to file a complaint."
As I pointed out yesterday after Fran Spielman dutifully reported that our heroic mayor had sweetened the pot for workers.
The city doesn't have the expertise to hire its own workers?
As opposed to what, the expertise to collect trash, clean the streets, deploy a police force, write a budget and, um, negotiate with Walmart?
What is a city for, anyway?
Why not outsource everything and just become a marketing company? That's all City Hall seems to be these days anyway.
Alternate response: Of course the city doesn't have the expertise. It's filled with patronage workers.
"Ald. Joe Moore, 49th, a frequent critic of city hiring practices, said Daley is conceding that he has been unable to eradicate the age-old practice of patronage hiring, which is allowed only for top positions," the Tribune reports.
"'What it represents is basically an admission on the part of the mayor that he has utterly failed to manage the hiring process,' Moore said. 'How hard is it to tell people to not let politics enter the equation? It is not rocket science.'"
Maybe we should outsource the mayoralty to someone with some expertise in something other than bullying. In fact, we could outsource that part too.
"Mayor Daley . . . announced this week that City Hall would sign private agreements with management companies and let them do the hiring in city government," John Kass writes. "Reporters who should know better said it was reform.
"Yet private management contracts aren't subject to the same Freedom of Information scrutiny as is government. Private companies can hire who they want, without much explanation. The only explaining they have to do is explain to the mayor."
Unconfirmed rumor just in to the Beachwood newsroom:
Forrest Claypool dropping out of assessor's race to form human resources company. Frank Kruesi trying to get there first. John and Michael Daley will own controlling interest either way.
The Week in WTF
The BP Crosstown Cup Comedy Series
Thank You, Fred
The Beachwood Tip Line: Round the bend.
Posted on June 25, 2010
© 2006 - 2017, The Beachwood Media Company