Criminal Justice

Chicago cops denied lawyers access to 'off-the-books interrogation compound,' published report says

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Chicago police used a “nondescript warehouse” on the city’s West Side to hold arrestees without access to lawyers for up to 24 hours, according to a published report.

The “off-the-books interrogation compound,” known as Homan Square, kept arrestees out of booking databases and away from lawyers and relatives, the Guardian reports.

Chicago lawyer Julia Bartmes told the publication that Homan Square is “sort of an open secret among attorneys that regularly make police station visits. This place–if you can’t find a client in the system–odds are they’re there.”

The Chicago Police Department refused to answer the Guardian’s questions. A Guardian reporter who arrived at the facility was denied access by a man at the gatehouse. “This is a secure facility. You’re not even supposed to be standing here,” the guard told the reporter.

But retired Chicago detective Bill Dorsch told the Guardian he didn’t believe suspects would be transferred to Homan Square to deny them a lawyer. Such a move would be “a career-ender,” Dorsch said.

Among those held at the facility was alleged “Nato Three” anarchist Brian Jacob Church, who had written the number of the National Lawyers Guild on his arm in case of an arrest. Church estimates he spent 17 hours chained to a bench at the facility in May 2012 while police interrogated him without granting him access to a lawyer or reading him his Miranda rights. Church went to prison and is on parole after his conviction for making Molotov cocktails before the 2012 Nato summit.

Church’s lawyer, Sarah Gelsomino, told the Guardian that a team of lawyers searched for Church for 12 hours before they found him. The lawyers made a “major stink” with their contacts in city government, learned of the facility and sent a lawyer there.

Hat tip to @RadleyBalko.

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