Government Law

Aldermen urge federal review of Chicago law department, sanctioned eight times in police suits

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Eleven Chicago aldermen are asking the U.S. Justice Department to investigate the city’s law department amid questions about discovery violations in police misconduct suits.

The letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the department’s civil rights litigation division has been sanctioned eight times for withholding possible evidence in the suits, the Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV report.

The letter was written a week after U.S. Judge Joan Gottschall sanctioned the city of Chicago for failing to turn over records in a 2012 police shooting case. Gottschall said the city had a “cavalier attitude” toward discovery and had acted in bad faith, according to the Tribune story.

The eight sanctions occurred during the administration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The mayor has said the sanctions are unacceptable and new reforms will solve the problem. Emanuel nonetheless backs the city’s top lawyer, Stephen Patton.

According to the Tribune, Patton adopted reforms recommended in a review of the department’s handling of police misconduct cases conducted by U.S. Attorney Dan Webb. Emanuel ordered the review after a federal judge sanctioned the city for discovery violations in January 2016 by tossing a jury verdict and ordering a new trial.

Subsequent coverage:

Chicago Tribune: “City’s top lawyer preparing to depart”

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