Donald Vance Files Suit Against Donald Rumsfeld

On Monday, December 18, 2006, Donald Vance, a 29 year-old former member of the United States Navy, and a former supervisor of security personnel for the Sandi Group and later Shield Group Security (SGS) in Iraq, filed suit against Donald Rumsfeld in the Northern District of Illinois. In his suit, Vance alleges that while employed by SGS in Iraq he observed suspicious payments by SGS agents to Iraqi Sheikhs and reported this activity to the FBI, in particular, to FBI agent Travis Carlisle in Chicago. Vance alleges that he was subsequently removed from the SGS compound and then taken to the US Embassy, then to Camp Prosperity and later to Camp Cropper which Vance alleges houses "high-value" detainees. Vance alleges he was detained for almost 100 days purely for purposes of conducting months of abusive interrogations. Vance alleges he was detained without due process of law, was never charged with a crime, was never told why he was being detained, was never given the opportunity to obtain a lawyer, was never given the opportunity to challenge his detention, and not even his family was told of his detention. Vance alleges that while detained his detention and interrogation were tantamount to torture in that he was exposed to intolerable cold and continuous artificial light, he was placed in solitary confinement, he was subjected to blarring music, he was awoken by startling if he fell asleep, he was subjected to blindfolding and "hooding" and deprived of food and water. Vance alleges that defendant Donald Rumsfeld was personally responsible for developing, authorizing, supervising and implementing the policies and practices of arrest, detention, treatment, and interrogation of detainees in Iraq. Vance alleges that Rumsfeld's policies and directives are inconsistent with fundamental Constitutional and human rights and that "Defendant Rumsfeld is not entitled to any form of official immunity for his knowing decisions to break with the laws protecting American citizens and international treaties on human rights." Vance's complaint contains the following ten counts: false arrest (I), unlawful detention (II), unlawful search and seizure (III), right to counsel in interrogations - coerced statements (IV), denial of Sixth Amendment right to counsel (V), denial of right to confront adverse witnesses (VI), denial of right to present witnesses and evidence, and to have exculpatory evidence disclosed (VII), conditions of detention (VIII), denial of necessary medical care (IX) and denial of property without due process (X). Vance's suit seeks unspecified compensatory damages, punitive damages, costs and attorneys' fees. Vance's suit has been assigned to the Honorable Milton I. Shadur. Vance is represented by attorneys Michael Kanovitz and Jon Loevy of the law firm of Loevy & Loevy.

Judge Sidney I. Schenkier Grants City of Chicago's Motion to Dismiss and Dismisses Steven Hudson's False Confession, False Arrest and Excessive Force Claims As Time-Barred

On December 5, 2006, in a 13-page Memorandum Opinion and Order, Northern District of Illinois Judge Sidney I. Schenkier granted the defendants' (City of Chicago, James Cassidy, & Wayne Bunch) motion to dismiss and dismissed plaintiff Steven Hudson's false confession, false arrest, and excessive force claims. Plaintiff Hudson alleged that on November 5, 1998, detectives Bunch and Cassidy interrogated him about a recent murder and put their thumbs in his eyes, used a device to electrocute and shock him, punched and kicked him, and threatened to take away his son if he did not confess. Hudson alleged he finally confessed and that Cassidy told him what to say in the confession. Based on that confession, Hudson was charged with murder. Hudson brought a motion to suppress his confession, which was granted by the trial judge on August 13, 2001. The State's appeal of this ruling was dismissed on April 9, 2003. On October 1, 2003, prosecutors nolle prosequied the charges. Hudson filed his suit on September 29, 2005.Both parties agreed that the two-year statute of limitations governed plaintiff's Section 1983 claims, but the parties disagreed over when those claims accrued. Judge Schenkier held that the accrual issue was governed by the Seventh Circuit's decision in Wallace v. City of Chicago, 440 F.3d 421 (7th Cir. 2006), cert granted, 126 S.Ct. 2891 (2006). As to Hudson's excessive force claim, Judge Schenkier held that it was "within the 'normal run' of claims to which the Wallace accrual rule applies" and that "Hudson had two years from November 5, 1998 in which to file his excessive force claim," which he failed to do. As to Hudson's false arrest claim, Judge Schenkier held that "[t]his is not a case where Mr. Hudson's false arrest claim would implicate either element of his criminal prosecution for murder. Indeed, Mr. Hudson's Heck argument is indistinguishable from the false arrest argument raised by the Wallace plaintiff." Thus, Judge Schenkier held that Wallace's accrual controlled the false arrest claim and that Hudson's false arrest claim accrued on November 5, 1998 and was time-barred. As to Hudson's false confession claim, Judge Schenkier held that "[t]o the extent that the claim is premised on physical and psychological coercion resulting in a false confession, we find that the analysis that governs the date of accrual for excessive force claims governs here as well." Judge Schenkier also held that to the extent Hudson was claiming his substantive due process rights were violated, "[w]e see nothing in Wallace that creates a different test for accrual of substantive due process claims than that used for constitutional violations."  Finally, Judge Schenkier dismissed Hudson's indemnity claim against the City of Chicago based on the Illinois Tort Immunity Act, 745 ILCS 10/9-102, since there was no longer any viable claim against defendants Cassidy and Bunch.

Murder Suspect James Ealy Was Previously Convicted Of Murder But His Conviction Was Reversed In 1986

James Ealy, the suspect in last week's strangulation murder of Mary Hutchison, was convicted over 20 years ago for the strangulation murders of Kristina Parker, Mary Anne Parker, Cora Parker and Jontae Parker. Each  victim had died as a result of ligature strangulation. Detectives found a bundle of clothing under Ealy's bed, including green cloth similar to that found around Mary Ann Parker's neck, a knife handle that matched a blade found in the victims' apartment, bed sheets with red stains and a child's sweater. Shortly after being confronted with this evidence, Ealy confessed to strangling the victims after they "made fun of his red eyes." Ealy brought a motion to suppress his confession, claiming he was denied food, water and sleep and that he confessed because he "couldn't take it" any more. This motion was denied. Ealy elected not to testify at trial and he was convicted of four counts of murder and sentenced to natural life imprisonment by Judge Thomas J. Maloney. But, in 1986, the Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, reversed his conviction and ordered a new trial. On appeal, the State conceded that no probable cause to arrest Ealy existed at the time he was first taken from his residence by detectives. However, the State argued that Ealy was not "seized" at that time so as to require probable cause. The court disagreed, stating that Ealy was continuously interrogated over an 18-hour period, during which he was denied food and water and only given one bathroom break. The court held that "a reasonable, innocent person in defendant's position would not have believed he was free to leave." The court further stated that "We also find that the unconstitutional misconduct of the police was a purposeful expedition for evidence in the hope of obtaining sufficient information upon which to predicate the probable cause necessary for defendant's arrest." The court went on to hold that "since the police lacked probable cause to arrest defendant at the time they took him from his residence, which the State concedes, we hold that defendant was illegally seized in violation of the fourth amendment." The opinion was written by Justice James C. Murray and joined by justices R. Eugene Pincham and Francis Lorenz. On appeal, Ealy was represented by Jenner & Block attorneys Robert L. Graham and Randall E. Mehrberg.

Robert Wilson Released From Prison After June Siler Recants Her Identification

On Monday, December 4, 2006, Robert Wilson was released from the Logan Correctional Center. Cook County presiding judge Paul Biebel, Jr. vacated Wilson's conviction after Assistant Cook County State's Attorney Celeste Stack advised the judge that her office would not be seeking a new trial. June Siler, the victim of a throat slashing in 1997, recently recanted her prior testimony that Wilson was her attacker. Wilson had been convicted of attempted murder and had served 9 years of his 30 year sentence. Wilson signed a written confession but claimed at his criminal trial that the confession was false. Last month, Chicago Tribune reporter Maurice Possley wrote that in a recent "tearful interview" Siler said that Wilson was not her attacker, despite the fact that she identified Wilson as her attacker at her criminal trial in 1997.

Judge Ruben Castillo Grants Robert Wilson's Petition For Writ Of Habeas Corpus

In a 42-page Memorandum Opinion And Order dated October 20, 2006, Judge Ruben Castillo of the Northern District of Illinois granted Robert Wilson's petition for a writ of habeas corpus pursuant to 28 USC 2254. Wilson had been convicted of attacking 24-year old June Siler at a bus stop in Chicago on February 28, 1997. Siler's throat was slit with a box cutter. Wilson had signed a written confession on March 3, 1997. Prior to trial, Wilson filed a motion in limine seeking permission to present evidence to the jury regarding the crime spree of 21-year old Jerryco Wagner, who had been attacking white victims at bus stops during this same time period. The trial court denied that motion. However, Judge Castillo found that "[t]he evidence proffered by Petitioner showed that Wagner admitted committing five unprovoked stabbing attacks on white people within a two-week period and within a roughly one mile radius of the attack on Siler." In granting the petition, Judge Castillo held that "[i]n sum, balancing the state court's apparent justification for excluding the Wagner evidence against the significance of this evidence to Petitioner's case, we conclude that the state court's exclusion of the evidence violated Petitioner's Sixth Amendment right to present a complete defense." Judge Castillo further ordered that "Respondent shall release Petitioner unless the State of Illinois initiates proceedings to retry him within 90 days of the date of this order."