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Lisa Madigan under fire

Wednesday, Feb 25, 2009

* AG Madigan is getting some political heat

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is being threatened with political retribution if she insists on washing her hands of torture cases tied to former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge.

Chicago Alderman Ed Smith said Tuesday sending five of the 25 Burge cases back to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office as Madigan requested will mean they will not prosecuted.

Smith warned Madigan will pay a price in a race for governor or for re-election, if she insists on passing the cases back to the state’s attorney’s office.

Smith lost his countywide race last year, but he has a powerful local organization and his political retribution threats cannot be taken lightly.

* A little background

Burge and officers under his command were accused of torturing many into confessions through beatings, electric shock and other odious acts. He was terminated by the Chicago Police Department in 1993 and indicted in October 2008 on perjury and obstruction of justice charges. Federal prosecutors have expanded the investigation to include officers under the former commander’s command when the alleged torture acts took place.

* More background…

The [five cases Madigan wants to give back to the state’s attorney] were among 21 turned over to the state attorney general in 2003 after a judge ruled that then-State’s Atty. Richard Devine had a conflict of interest because he once represented Burge in private practice.

* Devine is gone, so the conflict no longer exists, according to Madigan…

“Given the fact that there has been no activity and the fact the conflict no longer exists, we have asked Judge Biebel to consider assigning them back to the state’s attorney, where they would have been if not for Devine,” [Cara Smith, Madigan’s deputy chief of staff] said.

* But a recent AP story cited money as a big factor…

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office says it can’t handle the remaining cases related to former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge because of budget cuts imposed by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

* Back to Ald. Smith

“If this is shifted back, it’s gonna get lost in the cracks, put on the back burner and nothing will happen. Those people who are in jail will remain in jail. I want her to follow these cases to fruition and make sure that justice is served from her office,” Smith said. […]

“Our community is still upset about these cases. It could give the impression that she just wants to walk away and let it go”

He has a point.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

14 Comments
  1. - Steve - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 11:24 am:

    It’s quite sad that Pat Fitzgerald has to be the one to take the lead and get these guys on perjury.Alderman Smith has a good point.The problem is Alderman Smith is part of a system that doesn’t believe in checks and balances.Smith has supported Mayor Daley( the man who should have been the one to prosecute these cases when he was State’s Attorney).Does it bother Alderman Smith that he keeps voting for budgets that defend the status quo? When will Alderman Smith demand that the City Council investigate several of the major police scandals the last several years? Who did Chief of Detectives William Hanhardt hire who’s still on the police payroll? Alderman Smith should be asking that and other questions besides questioning the important John Burge investigations.Police brutality doesn’t seem to bother Lisa Madigan when good,white Chicago Democrats who are loyal patronage hacks are committing the crimes.


  2. - MOON - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 11:27 am:

    Whats the big deal?

    The potential conflict is gone with Devine’s retirement. The cases belong in the States Attorney’s office. If they are sent back and then “fall through the cracks”, that is the fault of the States Attorney.


  3. - Ghost - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 11:43 am:

    Keep in mind madigan does not have access to a grand jury. It seems backwards to put pressure on madigan and not the States attorney with the very powerful tool of a grand jury. Also the State attorney would be a lot more exposed to local voter disatification.


  4. - Carl Nyberg - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 12:03 pm:

    All of the 25 have done at least 17 years in prison.

    Most of them are almost certainly innocent. It’s possible they are all innocent.

    Paging Gov. Pat Quinn: grant clemency to these 25 Americans who were tortured at the hands of their government.


  5. - Pat collins - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 12:15 pm:

    “If this is shifted back, it’s gonna get lost in the cracks, put on the back burner and nothing will happen.

    That’s a pretty hard slam on the new State’s Atty. Should he not at least give her a chance?


  6. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 12:21 pm:

    Why shouldn’t the Cook County State’s Attorney handle this? That’s where the cases originated. And let’s face it — Illinois Attorney General is a great sounding title, but it’s kind of a Mickey Mouse office. Cook County SA has way more resources.

    Devine is the bad guy here for booting them in the first place — he could have insulated himself and his supposed “conflict” within his office.


  7. - BannedForLife - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 12:35 pm:

    the Cook County State’s attorney’s office is the ash can for public corruption


  8. - Bacon - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 12:43 pm:

    Rich, I’m not sure I see the point? Why not put pressure on SA, who originated the investigation and is now, ostensibly, free of a conflict of interest? What’s the angle here? Besides the obvious one of creating some leverage in a high profile Guv primary?


  9. - the Patriot - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 12:48 pm:

    No surprise here. Lisa Madigan’s MO is do not handle anything controversial. She lacks the intellect and experience to handle tough cases and the past 6 years have proven that. She campaigned on cleaning up after George Ryan and was very clear she would prosecute tough cases.

    This is just another example that Lisa Madigan is nothing, but a puppet for her father and Daley. It is getting a little ridiculous.


  10. - L.S. - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 1:06 pm:

    Madigan has never been one to back down from a good issue or a good fight. But this case belongs in the SA office. They have the juridiction and resources to prosecute. Smith should turn his attetnion to Alverez if he wants to see the case go to trial.


  11. - Tre - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 2:06 pm:

    Ald. Smith has a political organization? He was desroyed by Eugene Moore.


  12. - Factmonger - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 2:13 pm:

    Just to clear up a few misconceptions: The Chief Judge of the Cook County Circuit Court ruled five years ago that Dick Devine’s conflict of interest had permeated the SA’s office, because Devine was too slow to insulate himself from the Burge cases.

    Anita Alvarez was one of Devine’s top deputies. Without impugning her integrity, it’s clear that, if the office was “tainted” (the court’s words) by a conflict of interest, she would have been exposed to the problem. If the court were now to transfer the cases back into her purview, it would contradict the logic of its previous ruling.

    Moreover, any cases that are transferred to the State’s Attorney are subject to delays resulting from the change in jurisdiction and the State’s Attorney’s admissions that they have made no contingencies to resume responsibility for the filings. Burge victims have waited far too long for hearings on the ample and deplorable evidence that they were tortured.

    Justice delayed is, indeed, justice denied.


  13. - moby - Wednesday, Feb 25, 09 @ 2:41 pm:

    Sadly, the state of Illinois is responsible for more torture than just this. Prisoners at the supermax at Tamms are subject to long term isolation (one third have been there more than 10 years), sensory deprivation, and sleep deprivation. These are forms of clean torture or stealth torture no less damaging than cattle prods and plastic bags over the head. And yet there are no investigations and no apparent outrage. Now we know that the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay — including Khalid Sheikh Muhamed (9/11 mastermind) — are treated better than this!


  14. - Loop Lady - Thursday, Feb 26, 09 @ 8:37 am:

    Dear Patriot: OUCH! I don’t know if she is a
    puppet, but she sure has shown how ambitious she is in the last few months…I think this gives he electorate a chance to see her for what she is…just like Dad…


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