Chicago's Law Department Is Facing Sanctions Yet Again

By aaroncynic in News on Jan 5, 2017 8:53PM

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City Hall, via senor codo/Flickr

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Law Department was once again slapped with sanctions Tuesday in a case of police misconduct.

U.S. District Court Judge Joan Gottschall rebuked the department for ignoring a court order and failing to make a good effort providing documents relating to the shooting of Divonte Young by Chicago Police.

"The City's cavalier attitude toward the discovery process...warrant findings of willfulness, fault and bad faith," wrote Gottschall in a 24-page ruling, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Young was shot by a plainclothes officer in August of 2012 after he allegedly pointed a weapon at the officer after a foot chase ensued during an alleged shooting. Police allege Young fired on the officer after he identified himself as a police officer when he observed Young first fire a shot near the rear of a building, then at his vehicle. Documents from the Independent Police Review Authority, which recommended finding the officer’s use of deadly force justified, say that Young’s weapon was not located and “it was surmised that a civilian had removed the gun prior to the police officers arrival on scene.”

According to Gottschall’s ruling, attorney H. Candace Gorman, the lawyer for Young’s family, was given conflicting information on obtaining documents from both IPRA and the Law Department.

"From Gorman's perspective, discovery became a game here. The City apparently waited six months during discovery negotiations to tell her that she needed to take additional steps to obtain IPRA documents. She subpoenaed IPRA, and IPRA produced nothing and sent her back to the corporation counsel's office. The City then agreed to the entry of an order enforcing the subpoena and took an additional month to communicate its intent to prepare a privilege log."

This isn’t the first or the second time this has happened—in fact, it’s the eight time that since 2011 that Emanuel’s Law Department has faced sanctions regarding potential evidence in cases of police misconduct. It’s also the third time in the past six months.

Gottschall removed protections that would’ve allowed the city to withhold documents from Gorman, which now has until Jan. 10 to turn them over.