Civil Rights Defense Law Blog

City Of Chicago Not Sanctioned In Rule 30(b)(6) Dispute

Magistrate Michael Mason has denied plaintiff Oscar Walden's motion for sanctions against the City of Chicago stemming over the City's inability to produce a Rule 30(b)(6) deponent.  Walden was arrested and prosecuted for rape back in 1952 (that's right 1952), which resulted in his conviction by a jury. He served 14 years in prison and in 2003 received an innocence pardon from then-Governor George Ryan. In 2004, Walden filed suit alleging he was falsely arrested for rape, coercively interrogated and subjected to highly suggestive identification procedures. Walden also alleged the Chicago Police Department were acting according to the policies and practices of the City and CPD at the time and that those policies and practices proximately caused his conviction and imprisonment. Walden's attorneys served the City with a Rule 30(b)(6) notice of deposition asking the City to produce a knowledgeable witness to testify as to these alleged polices and practices. The City advised Walden's attorneys that due to the 55-year passage of time and the fact that virtually all of the CPD records created prior to 1960 had been discarded, the City was unable to produce someone competent to testify. Walden's attorneys sought sanctions in the form of a jury instruction that the alleged policies and practices alleged did, indeed, exist at the time, or an order barring the City from challenging Walden's proof of these alleged policies and practices. Magistrate Mason denied Walden's motion for sanctions, stating "The long and short of it is, the City cannot designate a 30(b)(6) witness because it does not have a knowledgeable employee, nor is there any information reasonably available to the City from which it could create a knowledgeable 30(b)(6) witness." Walden is represented by John Stainthorp at the People's Law Office. The City of Chicago is represented by Penelope George and Stephen Baker at the City of Chicago Law Department.
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