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The [Monday] Papers

"Two weeks before the release of video in Laquan McDonald's shooting thrust the issue of Chicago police brutality into the national spotlight, Priscilla Price sat in a nearly empty Cook County courtroom as a jury found that a cop had killed her 19-year-old son without justification in 2011," the Tribune reports.

"Price's sense of relief was short-lived, however. In a controversial move, the judge overseeing the case negated the jury's award of $3.5 million in damages and instead found in favor of the city. It turned out that the jury, in answering a written question as part of its verdict, had found that the officer had a reasonable belief that his life was in danger when he opened fire.

"In an interview with the Tribune, the foreman of the jury said he was stunned by the sudden reversal, especially after jurors had inquired by written note if their answer to that question would affect the outcome of the verdict. The judge didn't directly answer, instead telling jurors to use their best judgment, he said."

If only that judge had.


I sat on a civil jury recently in a case about as far removed from this one as possible - a trip-and-fall on an Evanston sidewalk. I can't help but recall, though, that as we worked our way through the verdict forms, we came to three questions at the end whose purpose we could not figure out. We had already quickly made our decision - it was really a no-brainer. When it came to the attached questions, though, which came last as, we thought, post-decision queries, we were a bit flummoxed. The one potential holdout on our panel was concerned that the way we answered those questions could be used in an appeal. The rest of us thought the wording of the questions (which were Yes/No) a bit tricky - and that without being able to explain ourselves, our answers could seem contradictory. In the end, we all agreed that the questions were there only for research purposes, much like lawyers who question a jury after a case to find out what worked and what didn't. We were an intelligent jury in one of the simplest cases imaginable. It wasn't the only instance of confusion about how the system worked. This is why I am loathe to find the jury at fault here. This one is on the judge.


"'My face was on fire,' said the foreman, who spoke on condition of anonymity and noted that deliberations had gone late into that Friday night. 'We put so much into this . . . I thought it was a really odd thing to go from $3.5 million to nothing because of wording on a piece of paper.'"

Right. It would have made more sense if the judge had overturned the verdict and ruled on her own.

Better yet: Call the jury into chambers to understand their way of thinking. Get it right.


"Price, meanwhile, is still bewildered and more than ever intent on bringing justice for her son, Niko Husband. Her attorneys have asked Associate Judge Elizabeth Budzinski to reinstate the jury's Nov. 6 verdict."

Budzinski was appointed to her position in 2003. For a Tribune obituary, her father, who was also a judge, was described as "a classic Chicago neighborhood guy."

"Henry very much liked the game of politics, and he was in that circle of politics from back when people's handshakes were still good, and they'd trade favors, help each other and help the city," said his nephew, David Cwik. "It was old-fashioned ward politics."

I don't know if that's relevant to judging Elizabeth Budzinski, but I thought it was interesting. This seems more relevant: She's the best friend of former police chief Garry McCarthy's wife. In fact, she performed the marriage ceremony for the couple last January.


"Police defended the shooting, saying [Price's son Niko] Husband had a gun and resisted arrest. A police union spokesman [Pat Camden, natch] at the scene that night even suggested that Husband had tried to use a woman as a human shield, prompting a veteran officer - identified in court records as Marco Proano - to fire three rounds into Husband's chest at close range.

"It wasn't until two years later, when a police dash-cam camera caught Proano cocking his gun sideways and unloading a dozen shots at a carload of unarmed teenagers, wounding two, that he was taken off the streets and put on paid desk duty while an investigation unfolded."

The DOJ can't get here fast enough.


"The foreman said the judge came back to the jury room and explained how, legally, she had to enter the verdict as she did. That eased some of his concerns, but he still thinks the one question - which was proposed by attorneys for the city - was worded in a way to trip them up."

Right. A police officer can feel they are in "imminent danger" because a kid is aiming a slingshot at them; shooting them isn't the answer. In this case, the jury appeared to believe that the officer inflamed a heated situation and put himself in danger - but that he also could have resolved the situation much differently.

"The bottom line is, we didn't feel that Proano had to shoot the way he did," the foreman said. "Three times point-blank in the chest? With other police officers there to help him?"

In asking Judge Budzinski to reconsider her decision, Shapiro argued that the jury's answer to the question on imminent danger was not inconsistent with their general verdict finding Proano liable in Husband's death.

As part of the request, two jurors submitted signed affidavits saying they did not believe Husband had a gun and that Proano and the other officers at the scene "could have eliminated the threat of serious bodily harm by physically restraining Niko Husband without the use of deadly force."

Let's see if Rahm puts on his sweater for this one:

"City lawyers, who have always maintained the officer's actions were appropriate, are expected to file a response in January."


"Price said that at the time she saw the video, she had no idea that Proano was back out patrolling the same neighborhood. The Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates police wrongdoing, had never notified her of its finding that Proano acted appropriately when he shot her son and would not be disciplined.

"To me they really didn't even investigate, they just took his word and sent him back out there," she said. "And unfortunately he fired at these kids. I just pray that he doesn't get back out there. Because it's gonna happen again."

Go read the whole thing, there's lots more.


What I'd like to see to determine if Budzinski's hands truly were tied: Reporting on whether the language she accepted from city lawyers is the norm - and generally considered acceptable; whether she could not guide the jury in any way when they asked about the verdict questions; whether the law truly mandates that she had to vacate the settlement. And then: If Budzinski truly could not have decided any other way at any step of the process, how to fix the process.


CPD's Real Leadership Problem
"Some things that you can only know if you were an insider and no longer have to watch your ass," writes our very own Bob Angone, a retired CPD lieutenant.


Oppo Ed
My piece that was picked up by Crain's on Rahm's deceitful Op-Ed is still getting lots of attention. I would just like to add that after the Tribune and Sun-Times published what I assume they thought was some sort of exclusive piece for them, the mayor's office apparently sent the very same piece out the next day as a press release - and it was picked up and published by Crain's and DNAinfo Chicago. So all four literally published a press release from the mayor's office, disguised as some sort of thoughtful commentary.

In addition, to a point I made in my piece, it's not like Rahm needed help cutting through the media noise to get his message out. First, it's not the media's job to help him do that. And when pols and their apologists say that, they mean cutting through the media noise that is vetting - the job the media exists for. Second, Rahm repeated the same arguments for days before the Op-Ed and in the days after. His "special address" to the city council, for example, was just a badly patched-together mishmash of the same thing over and over. Rahm's media strategy is clear: Repeat the disingenuous message as many times as possible in as many ways through as many platforms to drive his defense into the brains of the citizenry, his erstwhile supporters, and the (national, mostly) media, who will then find themselves repeating his mantras the same way they can't get a horrible Taylor Swift song out of their heads.

And then after his city council speech, he held another press conference - not to actually answer questions, but to hammer his points home in case you didn't get them the first 15 times.

The amazing thing is that none of it is working. That doesn't, however, absolve those corners of the media who have acted like extensions of his press operation - you know, the press operation that assigns spies to tag along with reporters at City Hall to take notes on who they are talking to and what questions they are asking. Those corners of the media somehow still seem fit to endorse a mayor like that, who could not be more hostile to their newsroom colleagues. I'm looking at you, Bruce Dold. But there are others, too.


Lesson never learned: When Richard M. Daley was mayor, he too had total access to the city's editorial pages. (And I criticized it then, too.) How much of what Daley "wrote" then and was accepted as truth is now what Rahm debunks (and is accepted as true) in his Op-Eds?

And since the particularly egregious Rahm Op-Ed about the Laquan McDonald case, politicians still get free rein on the editorial pages.

Maybe, just maybe, that space is better used for truth-tellers, fact-checkers, and viewpoints from voices we don't hear from often. The pols fill enough of the news already; do they really need to fill opinions sections too?


Police Culture
Lost a bit in my Op-Ed piece was something I wrote for The Youth Project about how we can change the culture around policing as we wait for culture change within policing.

Regarding the latter, it's been a long time coming (forever), and we may be waiting a long time yet.

In December 2002, I wrote this about the police department for Chicago magazine in a piece called "The Case Against Daley:"

"[L]et's review some of the lowlights under Daley's watch. One of the mayor's police chiefs, Matt Rodriguez, was forced to resign over a personal friendship with a reputed Mob figure and murder suspect. Earlier this year, a special prosecutor was appointed to look into the allegations (from 66 people) of torture linked to former area commander Jon Burge; the full story has yet to be told, but the mayor, who was the Cook County state's attorney when some of the abuses allegedly took place, hasn't exactly been out front demanding a clean accounting. The department has had several high-profile shootings of unarmed civilians, including LaTanya Haggerty and Robert Russ. And it only recently bought stun guns to disable suspects who need not be killed. It's too bad the department didn't begin using nonlethal weapons in time to save the life of Timothy Crotty, shot this year in a station house for wielding a three-and-a-half-inch knife, or of Arthur Hutchinson, shot two years ago in an alley wielding a fork. And let's not forget: According to a Tribune investigation, there is an astounding depth of ties between the department and the Mob. Nice.

"Is there room for a law-and-order candidate - one who insists that law and order apply to the police department as well as to common criminals?"

The fact is, Daley and Rahm and their cohort have never minded a few human sacrifices in exchange for a non-fetal police force they could take credit for. They also never minded the opportunity to lecture the poor black parents of those human sacrifices about their values.


Christmas Ghost Story: The Peppermint Kid
The video was said to be hideous.




I don't know what this is, but it's Peak something ....

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Saturday, December 12, 2015



Another media falsehood.

Posted by The Beachwood Reporter on Sunday, December 13, 2015


A sampling.



The Beachwood Tip Line: A bone of your own.


Posted on December 14, 2015

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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