Cook County Judge: OK To Subpoena John Burge As A Witness

According to the PR/Newswire:  

Cook County Judge Clayton Crane ruled Wednesday that attorneys for Cortez Brown may begin a process to subpoena former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge to testify about the beating inflicted on Brown during a 1990 murder investigation. Brown falsely confessed to the crime after Burge's subordinates bludgeoned him with a flashlight and committed other abuses. He continues to languish in state prison due to the wrongful conviction.  Seeking to void that conviction, Locke Bowman, Legal Director of the Roderick MacArthur Justice Center, and Attorney for Cortez Brown sought leave to subpoena Burge and former Detective Tony Maslanka, who currently live out-of-state, as material witnesses. The certification that Burge and Maslanka are material witnesses in the Brown case permits the attorneys to seek a subpoena within the jurisdiction in which Burge and Maslanka live. In 1990, Brown was arrested for the murders of Devin Boelter and Curtis Sims. Brown alleges that Area 3 police detectives John O'Brien, John Paladino and Tony Maslanka - all of whom worked directly under Burge - verbally threatened him and beat him repeatedly with fists and a flashlight until he agreed to submit a bogus confession to the crimes.  At trials for both murders, Brown's coerced confessions were the principal evidence used to tie him to the alleged crimes. And in both cases, the larger pattern of atrocities that Burge inflicted on other black suspects was not revealed. Burge is currently under federal indictment for perjury and obstruction of justice based on his sworn denials that suspects were abused and tortured. Brown finished serving the 30 year sentence imposed on him for one of the murders, but seeks release from his natural life sentence for the second.


Chicago Cops Acquitted in Jefferson Tap Bar Beating

The Chicago Tribune is reporting: 

"A Chicago police sergeant and two officers were acquitted today in connection with the off-duty beating of several patrons at a West Loop bar in December 2006.

Following a bench trial several weeks ago, Circuit Judge Thomas V. Gainer Jr. found Sgt. Jeffery Planey and Officers Gregory Barnes and Paul Powers not guilty of aggravated battery charges in the attack at the Jefferson Tap and Grille.

The judge also acquitted Planey of obstruction of justice and official misconduct for allegedly waving away on-duty police responding to a silent alarm from the bar. Security video was central to the prosecution case, but only Planey was caught on the tape getting physical with one victim.

Gainer was brief in his comments, saying he had reviewed all the testimony at trial as well as security videotapes and audio from a 911 call.

"After doing all of that, I have come to the conclusion that the state has failed to meet its burden in the charges against these men," he said.

"Prosecutors had alleged the officers jumped brothers Barry and Aaron Gilfand and two of their friends as they played pool. When police showed up at the bar, the off-duty officers felt they wouldn't be held accountable because Planey formerly worked in the district, Assistant State's Atty. Lauren Freeman said in closing arguments.

Attorneys for the officers said the attack was provoked by the alleged victims mocking Powers for crying over the recent death of his father. They contended the Gilfands exaggerated their injuries and altered their accounts of that night to boost their chances at winning a lot of money in their pending federal lawsuit against the officers and the city. Barnes' attorney, William Fahy, said that describing the Gilfands as victims was an insult to real crime victims, calling the brothers "a couple of loud-mouthed drunks." Fahy said Aaron Gilfand recently identified Barnes as his attacker for the first time after the state's only independent witness, bartender Lindsay Vanderford, said in a deposition for the lawsuit that she could have been mistaken about her identification of Barnes. During the trial, Vanderford again admitted that she was likely mistaken about her identification.

In his defense of Planey, attorney Thomas Needham stitched together dozens of bits of evidence, testimony and what he argued were reasonable inferences in an attempt to persuade Gainer that his client did not order or intend to send police away from the scene. Planey, the only defendant whose alleged crimes were captured on security video, faces two counts of aggravated battery for his alleged attack on Barry Gilfand -- that he caused bodily harm and that he insulted the alleged victim through his actions. But Needham said Gilfand was uninjured and that just because the sergeant pushed him against the wall did not mean he insulted Gilfand. Attorney Lori Lightfoot said her client, Powers, could not have assaulted Barry Gilfand in the manner he described because his testimony is contradicted by his appearance in security video moments after the alleged attack and the absence of bruises or significant injury." 


Amanda Antholt who represents plaintiffs in a lawsuit against these officers and the City of Chicago says she is disappointed with the verdict but she is confident that the civil suit will provide "justice" for her clients.

We will wait and see what happens in the civil case.  For now - congrats to the criminal defense team.  

United States Supreme Court Limits Vehicle Searches By Police

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court held the following in Arizona v. Gant:  Holding: Police may search a vehicle incident to a recent occupant’s arrest only if the arrestee is within reaching distance of the passenger compartment at the time of the search or it is reasonable to believe the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest. When these justifications are absent, a search of an arrestee’s vehicle will be unreasonable unless police obtain a warrant or show that another exception to the warrant requirement applies