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Constitutional Law

Former Chicago Police Lt. Accused of Suspect Torture Is Convicted of Perjury and Obstruction

Posted Jun 28, 2010 4:41 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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It was a long time coming.

But this afternoon, a decorated former Chicago police lieutenant accused, along with officers under his command, of torturing scores of suspects to extract confessions during the 1970s and 1980s was criminally convicted by a federal jury in Chicago.

Although the statute of limitations had expired by the time he was prosecuted for many of the charges that could have been brought contemporaneously, Police Lt. Jon Burge was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice, the Associated Press reported. He faces a potential 45-year prison term when he is sentenced.

Burge was fired in 1993 over allegations that he mistreated a suspect but wasn't charged at that time and retired on a police pension. He denied, in his testimony at the trial, ever torturing suspects or seeing others do so and he showed no reaction when the verdict was read today.

His lies in a civil suit were what brought him down, the Chicago Tribune reported.

A 2006 report by a Cook County prosecutor found some evidence of torture by Burge, but said it was too late to charge him, the newspaper notes.

Claims by some 100 individuals, almost all black, who say they were abused during the Burge regime helped lead to a moratorium on imposition of the death penalty in Illinois.

Five individuals' allegations against Burge were the focus of the trial against him.

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Ex-Police Cmdr. Arrested in ‘80s Torture Cases"

ABAJournal.com: "Ill. Judge OKs New Murder Trial for Cortez Brown After 3 Cops Take Fifth"

ABAJournal.com: "Quintuple Murder Charges Dropped Against Men Imprisoned 20 Years"

Chicago News Cooperative (news analysis reprinted in New York Times): "Verdict in Burge Trial Will Not Bring Issue to a Close"

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