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Vol. 76/No. 2      January 16, 2012

Chicago court victories highlight
class ‘justice’ under capitalism
(front page)
CHICAGO—Three recent Illinois court decisions shed light on the workings of the capitalist rulers’ frame-up system—how cops and prosecutors use false, coerced confessions and suppress evidence to secure convictions of working people.

On Nov. 2 U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer rejected an appeal from former Chicago Mayor Richard Daley of her July decision that he must testify in a suit filed by Michael Tillman against Daley, former police lieutenant Jon Burge and 14 others.

Tillman, who is African-American, spent 23 years in jail for rape and murder based on a confession extracted through torture at the hands of the notorious “midnight crew”—a gang of cop torturers operating under the command of Burge, who was convicted of lying about the torture he oversaw and began serving his sentence in March.

The former mayor could end up in court as a defendant in several ongoing cop torture suits.

The judge agreed with Daley’s lawyers that his actions while he was Cook County State’s Attorney were covered by prosecutorial immunity. Daley’s eight-year tenure in that office coincided with documented systematic torture organized by Burge and his midnight crew in the largely Black neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side covered by police “Area 2.”

But, she reiterated, “The court concludes that Plaintiff [Tillman] sufficiently alleged that Daley, as Mayor, participated in a conspiracy that included the concealment of exculpatory evidence.” Pallmeyer also wrote that Tillman’s legal team had provided enough evidence to support “an inference that Daley was aware of a racially motivated conspiracy to torture African American suspects at Area 2.”

In another case, on Nov. 16, Cook County Circuit Judge Paul Biebel ordered a new trial for the Englewood Four—Michael Saunders, Harold Richardson, Terrill Swift and Vincent Thames—convicted for the 1994 rape and murder of Nina Glover on Chicago’s South Side.

The four African-Americans were teenagers when they were interrogated and confessed under police coercion in March 1995. They were tried and convicted in May 1998. In May 2011 DNA testing excluded each as possible assailants.

On Dec. 9 the Appellate Court of Illinois overturned the 1993 conviction of Juan Rivera for rape and murder. Rivera’s coerced confession was the keystone in the case Lake County prosecutors constructed to secure his conviction three times by three different juries—the latest in 2009. As in the case of the Englewood Four, no physical evidence linked Rivera to the victim. DNA testing in 2005 definitively ruled him out as the rapist. Six years later the appellate court agreed.
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