Trials & Litigation

Federal judge imposes $70K sanction on defense attorney over witness gaffe that caused mistrial

  • Print.

A federal judge on Friday imposed a sanction of nearly $70,000 on an attorney representing the city of Chicago in a wrongful-conviction case last year because of a gaffe by a testifying police witness that caused a mistrial.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly said in his opinion that he believed the remark by the witness was an unintentional violation of a court order not to discuss the plaintiff’s connection to alleged terrorism. However, he blamed attorney Terrence Burns for not better preparing the sergeant for his testimony, the Chicago Tribune (reg. req.) reports.

The plaintiff, former high-ranking El Rukn gang member Nathson Fields, is seeking damages from both Chicago police and Cook County prosecutors, saying they framed him in a double-murder case.

The remark during testimony by former police Sgt. David O’Callaghan, who is one of the defendants in the case, concerned a prosecutor’s work on “terrorism cases.”

Kennelly ordered Burns to pay $68,618 in attorney fees and costs to attorney Candace Gorman, who represents Fields, to cover her cost to retry the case.

See also: “No immunity for prosecutor accused of misconduct”

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.