Chicago mayor orders 'third-party review' of federal civil rights litigators after verdict tossed
The city of Chicago will be bringing in a third party to review its in-house legal department, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Thursday. The news follows a string of bad press regarding Chicago and police cover-ups, including a recent federal ruling that a law department senior counsel intentionally concealed evidence in a police shooting case.
Emmanuel did not say who would handle the review of its Federal Civil Rights Litigation Division, what it would cost or how many years would be examined, the Chicago Sun Times reports. The article notes that previously, the mayor seemed to be opposed to the idea of the Justice Department including the corporation counsel’s office in its investigation of the Chicago Police Department’s patterns and practices. The agency announced its investigation followed the release of video showing the police shooting death of Laquan McDonald.
“Steve Patton [the city’s corporation counsel] in quick order is going to have a third-party, an independent entity, look at that division, make sure everybody is clear about what the professional standards are and then the training to go with it,” Emanuel said. “That’s what will happen because it’s essential for people’s confidence.”
The latest case involves the fatal police shooting of Darius Pinex. The city won a defense jury verdict, but U.S. District Court Judge Edmond E. Chang in a Jan. 4 order (PDF) vacated the judgment and granted a motion for new trial after finding that senior corporation counsel Jordan Marsh intentionally failed to disclose audio evidence from the city’s Office of Emergency Management and Communications. Marsh resigned hours after the ruling was issued. The law department is currently looking into 40 open cases Marsh had been handling, the Sun-Times reports.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Chang has “cited and rebuked” five city attorneys within the last year for withholding evidence in two different police misconduct cases.