Smith to Madigan: Do Your Job
By Kevin Robinson in News on Feb 25, 2009 7:00PM
28th Ward Alderman Ed Smith cautioned State Attorney General Lisa Madigan that if she walks away from the Jon Burge torture cases that allegedly took place at Area Two Headquarters in the early 80's she'll face a backlash that could have consequences on any campaign she launches for Governor, U.S. Senate, state supreme court, or even re-election. Madigan's office has been handling the Burge cases since 2003, when Chief Criminal Court Judge Paul Biebel found that then-State's Attorney Richard Devine had a conflict of interest because Devine once represented Burge. Madigan has asked that five of the 25 cases she's currently handling be shifted back to the state's attorney office. "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. It could be an adversity if she ran again."
"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. Allegations of abuse of suspects in police custody during Burge's tenure have gained momentum since 1982, when a suspect wound up at Mercy Hospital and Medical Center with severe injuries that had resulted while in police custody, but public sentiment to discipline Burge didn't come until The Reader published reports of torture under his command in 1990. An investigation by Chicago Police Department's Office of Professional Standards concluded that Jon Burge and his detectives engaged in "methodical" and "systematic" torture, and "the type of abuse described was not limited to the usual beating, but went into such esoteric areas as psychological techniques and planned torture." In the years after that report several lawsuits and trials ensued, culminating in 2000 with then-Governor George Ryan halting executions in the state and commuting the death sentences of over 160 inmates to life in prison. Although he has never been convicted of torture, Burge was indicted last year on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice for allegedly lying about torture that took place during his command.