Multimillion-dollar payouts come before the Chicago City Council on an almost monthly basis, with the largest sums typically going to victims of police misconduct. Since 2000, the city has paid out nearly $700 million in 300 cases in which people said they were framed by Chicago police, reported the Chicago Sun-Times.
Of that, $138 million went to outside lawyers who
defended the city.
The tally covers only federal lawsuits and does not
include fees awarded to the plaintiffs’ lawyers. Also not included are
police-related lawsuits alleging misconduct such as false arrest and excessive
force, or for crashes and fatal shootings.
“The city is looking at, easily, a billion-dollar
liability over the last 23 years, with plenty more on tap,” said Andrew M.
Stroth, a civil rights attorney whose nonprofit organization, Truth, Hope &
Justice, collaborated on the report with the global law firm Ropes & Gray,
the Law Firm Antiracism Alliance and Chicago-based insurance and risk
management firm Aon.
Stroth is currently representing James Gibson in a lawsuit against the city, alleging he was tortured by
former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge into a false confession that landed him
in prison for nearly 30 years.
“As far as I can tell, they have no strategy for how
they evaluate these cases,” Stroth said. “And that is delaying justice for men
like James Gibson at phenomenal costs to taxpayers.”
Law Department spokeswoman Kristen Cabanban said
Wednesday that “the city is keenly aware of the complexity and special
challenges presented by reversed conviction cases and continues to give careful
attention to these cases both individually and as a group.
“However, the Law Department cannot comment publicly
on ongoing litigation or provide litigation assessment,” she added. “Nor do we
authorize the firms we engage to comment because doing so is inconsistent with
our professional obligations and could jeopardize efforts to resolve these
matters in a way consistent with the city’s best interests.”
Rivera was one of the first people to be exonerated
based on claims of misconduct against former Chicago police Det. Reynaldo
Guevara. The report lists 11 active lawsuits involving claims against Guevara.
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