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Policy Statements

The Chicago Police Department’s Bureau of Internal Affairs Does Not Report Data That Would Allow The Public To Evaluate Whether It Is Processing Complaints of Police Misconduct Fairly.

–Gordon Waldron

Processing of complaints against police in Chicago is a Tale of Two Cities. The two cities are the Chicago Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), and the Bureau of Internal Affairs of the Chicago Police Department (BIA). By ordinance, IPRA is responsible for investigating complaints alleging excessive force, coercion with a threat of violence, bias-based verbal abuse, and domestic violence by an officer. All other complaints against the police are within BIA’s jurisdiction, including complaints of illegal searches and seizures, improper arrests, verbal abuse, coercion and criminal misconduct. IPRA is an open book compared to BIA in disclosing how it processes complaints. The information that BIA makes available on its webpage does not allow the public to evaluate how well it performs its duty of investigating and making decisions as to complaints by the public of police misconduct.

 

  • IPRA is required by ordinance to produce and make public quarterly reports disclosing the number of complaints it has received, investigated, and on which it made findings. BIA is not so required.
  • IPRA’s quarterly reports also summarize the factual bases (without naming names) of the complaints it has sustained, and state the discipline it has recommended for each sustained finding. BIA does neither.
  • IPRA is relatively transparent about how it processes complaints. BIA is not.

 

BIA’s 2013 annual report lists the number of complaints that it receives within its jurisdiction each year and the prior year, broken down into 15 categories. It also graphs that same data, and graphs it again as to the top 5 categories of complaints. It also reports on separation and suspension decisions of the Chicago Police Board. But it reports nothing about what it does with the complaints. It does not report how many it investigates per year or what its backlog of complaints is. It does not report how many findings it made or their categories. If you were to try to design an annual report to make it difficult for members of the City Council or the public to evaluate whether BIA is doing a good job of investigating complaints of police misconduct, it would be hard to design a more confusing one.

 

It turns out, however, that since at least 2004, the Chicago Police Superintendent has been submitting the Chicago Police Board monthly data on the number and categories of its findings on complaints. But you can’t find any link, much less reference, on BIA’s web page to that information. To its credit, the Chicago Police Board recently started posting that data on its web page.

You can find this data by going to the Chicago Police Board home page and clicking on “Public Meetings.” You will see a topic called “Regular Meetings.” For the May 2015 meeting, click on the term “Blue Book.” Then scroll down to page 14 of that document.

When either BIA or IPRA concludes that there is sufficient evidence to justify disciplinary action, they enter a “sustained” finding on the complaint. In 2014 BIA reported that 24% of its findings were in the “sustained” category, while IPRA reported that only 14% if its findings were in that category. You might conclude from this data that BIA was more pro-complainant than was IPRA, but you would be wrong. Here’s why:

  • About 40% of complaints that BIA investigates allege violations of the internal personnel and operational rules of the police department as to such matters as sick leave. Supervisors (not members of the public) typically file these complaints against subordinates. They are simpler and less significant than the complaints the public files alleging illegal searches and seizures, improper arrests, verbal abuse, coercion or criminal misconduct.
  • BIA transfers the responsibility of investigating some of its complaints to the various police districts.

 

Thus when BIA reports that 24% of its findings were sustained, it lumps together findings of personnel/operational violations with all the other types of violations, and it lumps together findings made by the police districts with findings it has made. It could be that all of the “sustained” findings found personnel/operational violations, or were all made by the police districts, not BIA. There is no way for the public to know. By lumping together data about different types of decisions, BIA hides important information. And it reveals no information that would allow the public to evaluate how BIA evaluates complaints of violations filed by members of the public against police officers.

Recent events in places like Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island, New York remind us that the process of investigating complaints of police misconduct must be both fair and transparent. BIA fails the transparency test.

The Chicago Council of Lawyers works cooperatively with Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice on social justice issues through the Collaboration for Justice.  For a report on how this Collaboration works, how you can get involved, and a description of some of the 2014 accomplishments, please see our Annual Report for 2014. For more information, please contact us at ccl@chicagocouncil.org.

By: Elizabeth Monkus

 

Chicago Appleseed and Chicago Council of Lawyers are signatories on an amicus brief submitted in Williams-Yulee vs. Florida Bar before the Supreme Court this term. We join 9 other state and local nonpartisan organizations committed to creating and maintaining an ethical judicial system and promoting the confidence of the public in that system in the brief. Each state represented by a signatory has a judicial canon similar to the one at stake in Williams-Yulee. Canon 7, rule 67(B)(2) specifically prohibits judicial candidates in Illinois from personally soliciting or accepting campaign contributions.

Williams-Yulee was a candidate for judicial office in Florida when she personally signed campaign solicitations in violation of Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct, which applies to attorneys running for judicial office. Williams-Yulee has mounted a First Amendment challenge to the restriction, arguing her right to ask for campaign donations personally is protected speech.

The Amici argue, as Chicago Appleseed and the Chicago Council of Lawyers consistently maintain, that the “judiciary’s legitimacy depends almost entirely on its reputation for fairness and the public’s confidence in its impartiality and independence.” Judicial canons and rules constraining campaign activity by judicial candidates are critical in promoting the appearance of impartiality in judges by insulating them from perception of quid pro quo between campaign donors and elected officials.

Although the personal political activity of judicial candidates requires protection under the Constitution, regulation of judicial campaigns is necessary and can be balanced against those interests in order to “properly protect the judicial process from being misjudged in the minds of the public” Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U. S. 559, 565 (1965). Judges are unique as elected officials in that their election must not be predicated upon what they intend to do in their office-a judge must be elected on her competence, impartiality and ability to rule in accordance with the law, regardless of personal political opinion. Regulation of the campaign activity personally handled by judicial candidates helps maintain this barrier in an appropriately narrowly-tailored way.

We thank the Brennan Center and the Philadelphia law firm of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP for facilitating our participation in this brief. Other signatories on the brief are:

 

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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has started a search process for the new Public Defender in Cook County.

On March 31, 2015, Abishi Cunningham’s six-year term as Public Defender for Cook County will end. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has elected to replace Cunningham with a new public defender. This choice is a critical one for the immediate future of criminal justice in Cook County. The Cook County Public Defender’s Office comprises nearly 750 staff members, including 550 attorneys who represent defendants in the grand majority of criminal cases in the county.

Though the selection of a public defender is entirely within the authority of the County Board President, after the appointment the position is highly independent. With this one appointment, the policy goals and management style for the government body that most directly represents the accused will be set for six years. This blog entry will describe the search process currently underway for the new Cook County P.D. The search is proceeding in three stages: (1) gathering of names, (2) review committee interviews; and (3) the President’s final selection and board approval.

Gathering Names

In December 2014 President Preckwinkle sent letters out to the six Chicago-area law schools, three local bar associations, and the Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, inviting them to submit up to three names each to be considered by the President’s Review Committee.

The law schools included the University of Chicago Law School, the Northwestern University Law School, the John Marshall Law School, Chicago-Kent Law School, the Loyola University School of Law, and the DePaul University Law School. The three bar association are the Chicago Council of Lawyers, the Cook County Bar Association, and the Chicago Bar Association.

My own organization, Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice, has been selected to collect recommendations from the social justice research policy community, including First Defense Legal Aid, Cabrini Green Legal Services, and Lawndale Christian Legal Services, and to narrow these recommendations down to three names.

These names—along with the résumés and an indication of the willingness of the individuals to be interviewed—are due to President Preckwinkle’s office by January 26, 2015.

 

The Review Committee

The next step is the President’s review committee. The review committee will take up to twelve names sent to them and conduct interviews to reduce the final list of recommendations to three.

The Review committee is chaired by Judge Joy Cunningham (no relation to Public Defender Cunningham), and comprises the following individuals:

  • Edwin Reyes, a former Chicago Police Officer and Board Commissioner,
  • Jeffrey Urdangen, clinical professor at the Northwestern School of Law and an established leader in the defense bar,
  • Diane Williams, the retired CEO of the Safer Foundation whose experience as a crime victim motivated her to make a career in reforming the rehabilitative opportunities presented to defendants, and
  • Patrick Covington, an ex-offender and a strong member of the alumni association of one of the County’s rehabilitative drug treatment programs.
  • Judge Rhoda Sweeney (ret.) is also on the committee as an alternate.

 

President’s Final Selection and Board Approval

The review committee must conclude it’s interview process and submit a final list of the three names to President Preckwinkle toward the end of February or the beginning of March. At this point President Preckwinkle will work toward getting the candidate approved by the Cook County Board at their mid-March meeting.

As the President, the review committee, and the various organizations do their work over the next two months they should keep in mind the various challenges that any qualified candidate for the position of Public Defender in Cook County has to be able to tackle. First, the new Public Defender has to be active in pushing forward reforms in the fast-changing world of criminal justice nationwide. Public Defenders have a key role to play in ensuring that racial and wealth disparities are addressed in the system, that judges, state’s attorneys, and law enforcement officers are respecting the rights of the accused, and that new case management and treatment opportunities are being effectively and correctly administered to their clients. Second, the Public Defender has to be able to effectively manage a large governmental office with a unionized workforce and be able to work collaboratively with other governmental departments and agencies in a county known for its tense interdepartmental politics.

The dates for the selection process are approaching quickly and we will be following this process closely.

 

Gordon Waldron,

Chicago Council of Lawyers,

Civil Liberties Committee.

 

In 2005, the Chicago Council of Lawyers issued a statement urging the United States to comply with the Convention against Torture, a treaty that the United States ratified in 1994. In 2013, the Council issued a Position Statement calling for a modification of the State Secret Doctrine, which the federal government under both the Bush and Obama Administrations has used to persuade courts to dismiss lawsuits by victims of torture, “extraordinary rendition,” and illegal electronic surveillance. The Council concluded that the “dismissal of a suit brought by a person who has alleged he was the victim of abusive and illegal government conduct leaves the victim with no remedy, and undermines our constitutional system of checks and balances . . .”

The recent Senate Committee Report on the CIA detention and interrogation programs illustrates the importance of these matters. An example is Khaled-El-Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, who in December 2003 was seized by Macedonian border guards, having confused him with an Al-Qaeda operative with a similar name. A month later, he was turned over to a CIA rendition team.  They beat him, stripped off his clothing, and sodomized him with a foreign object. He was then flown to Afghanistan, where he was imprisoned in a CIA-run facility known as the “Salt Pit,” an abandoned brick factory in Kabul, where he was interrogated, beaten, drugged, bound, blindfolded and barred from communicating with anyone outside the building.  Four months later, he was flown to Albania (which shares a border with Macedonia) and dropped by the side of a road.  When he got back to Germany, he learned that his family had moved to Lebanon, thinking he had abandoned them.

In December 2005, he sued the CIA in federal court. The United States argued that the case should be dismissed under the State Secret doctrine. The trial court agreed, El-Masri v Tenet et al., 437 F.Supp.2d 530 (E.D.Va.2006), and the Court of Appeals affirmed, concluding that the suit could not be litigated without revealing the identities of CIA agents and CIA tactics and procedures. El Masri v. United States, 479 F. 3d 296 (4th Cir. 2007).

 On July 16, 2007, about four months after the court of appeals had affirmed the dismissal of El-Masri’s case, the CIA informed the Senate Intelligence Committee that it had lacked sufficient basis to seize and detain him. During its investigation of the CIA, the Senate Intelligence Committee sought and the administration produced over six million pages of CIA material, including documents relating to El-Masri. In 2012, El-Masri received a judgment against Macedonia in a suit before the European Court of Human Rights.

Because tactics the CIA used against El-Masri have now been revealed, he may have an argument that the United States has waived its claim that the CIA actions involving him are still secret.  But even if that is not the case, he should receive compensation from the United States.

One way for that to happen is for Congress to pass a bill authorizing the administration to establish a compensation fund consisting of a fixed amount to be allocated among the 26 innocent victims of torture, and/or detention identified in the Senate Report, based on the severity of their injuries. Congress should do this whether or not it considers the government was right or wrong in taking those actions initially, or later invoking the State Secret doctrine to bar such claims. Congress should do it because it is the right thing to do.

Sources:

Report of Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, “Study of CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program,”  (2014). (See in particular, pages 14, 127, 128.)

“Court Finds Rights Violation in C.I.A. Rendition Case,” New York Times December 13, 2012.

El Masri v. United States, 479 F. 3d 296 (4th Cir. 2007).

El Masri v. Tenet et al., 437 F. Supp.2d 530 (E.D.Va. 2006).

El-Masri v The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, European Court of Human Rights, 2012; http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/pages/search.aspx?i=001-115621#{“itemid”:[“001-115621”]}

 

12/19/14

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Chicago Appleseed and Chicago Council of Lawyers are signatories on an amicus brief submitted in Williams-Yulee vs. Florida Bar before the Supreme Court this term. We join 9 other state and local nonpartisan organizations committed to creating and maintaining an ethical judicial system and promoting the confidence of the public in that system in the brief. Each state represented by a signatory has a judicial canon similar to the one at stake in Williams-Yulee. Canon 7, rule 67(B)(2) specifically prohibits judicial candidates in Illinois from personally soliciting or accepting campaign contributions.

Williams-Yulee was a candidate for judicial office in Florida when she personally signed campaign solicitations in violation of Florida’s Code of Judicial Conduct, which applies to attorneys running for judicial office. Williams-Yulee has mounted a First Amendment challenge to the restriction, arguing her right to ask for campaign donations personally is protected speech.

The Amici argue, as CAFFJ and CCL consistently maintain, that the “judiciary’s legitimacy depends almost entirely on its reputation for fairness and the public’s confidence in its impartiality and independence.” Judicial canons and rules constraining campaign activity by judicial candidates are critical in promoting the appearance of impartiality in judges by insulating them from perception of quid pro quo between campaign donors and elected officials.

Although the personal political activity of judicial candidates requires protection under the Constitution, regulation of judicial campaigns is necessary and can be balanced against those interests in order to “properly protect the judicial process from being misjudged in the minds of the public” Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U. S. 559, 565 (1965). Judges are unique as elected officials in that their election must not be predicated upon what they intend to do in their office—a judge must be elected on her competence, impartiality and ability to rule in accordance with the law, regardless of personal political opinion. Regulation of the campaign activity personally handled by judicial candidates helps maintain this barrier in an appropriately narrowly-tailored way.

We thank the Brennan Center and the Philadelphia law firm of Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP for facilitating our participation in this brief. Other signatories on the brief are:

 

On December 19, 2014, Governor Quinn signed into law SB 3075 that reduces the size of juries in civil case from twelve to six members.  The law, which takes effect June 1, 2015, also includes a provision increasing the compensation of jurors.  While Chicago Appleseed and the Chicago Council of Lawyers support the increased compensation of jurors, we are concerned about the impact that reducing jury size may have on minority representation on juries.  Research analyzing data from 277 civil jury trials in Cook County showed that “reducing jury size inevitably has a drastic effect on the representation of minority group members on the jury” (from an article by Diamond, Peery, Dolan and Dolan, which was published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies).  On December 11, 2014, Chicago Appleseed and Chicago Council of Lawyers sent the following request to Governor Quinn:

___________________

Dear Governor Quinn:

On behalf of Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice and the Chicago Council of Lawyers, I am writing to urge you to veto the provision in SB3075 that would reduce the size of juries in civil cases from twelve to six members.  Objective research on the jury system shows that the effect of that change would be to reduce minority representation on our juries significantly.

An article by Diamond, Peery, Dolan and Dolan, which was published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies.  concludes that  “reducing jury size inevitably has a drastic effect on the representation of minority group members on the jury.”  They analyzed data from 277 civil jury trials in Cook County.

The bill also includes a provision increasing the compensation of jurors.  That would be an improvement.  With the amendatory veto, of course, you could keep the increased pay while preventing the very negative consequences of the reduction in jury size.

The Brown and Garner grand jury cases in Missouri and New York have revealed a deep-seated distrust of the impartiality of the administration of justice, especially among people of color.  We must not enact legislation that research shows will decrease the representation of minority group members on the jury. Minorities are already greatly underrepresented in our legal institutions.  Decreasing minority representation on our juries would be one of the worst things we could do.

Sincerely,

Malcolm Rich

Executive Director

Chicago Appleseed Fund for Justice and the Chicago Council of Lawyers

 

 

In Illinois, judges are elected. People will be voting for judicial candidates on March 20, 2012. Early voting begins on February 27, 2012. Each of these candidates is running to fill a judicial vacancy.

By reading the information and judicial evaluation results found on this website, you can become better informed about the people running for judge. By voting for qualified judges, you can help protect our courts. Please remember that judges make decisions that affect our entire society as well as your well-being. Each judge makes tens of thousands of decisions that can affect nearly everyone. By protecting our courts, you are protecting yourself, your family, and your friends.

For the judicial evaluation report of the Chicago Council of Lawyers and a ballot summary using the judicial evaluation results from the Chicago Council of Lawyers, please visit our State Judicial Evaluations page to download.

That’s the undisputed message in the most comprehensive study of diversionary drug courts ever completed. The Urban Institute, the Center for Court Innovation, and RTI International, conducted the study, “The Multi-Site Adult Drug Court Evaluation.” Researchers evaluated 23 drug courts and 6 traditional court programs for comparison, over a period of 5 years…[Read the entire article on our blog]

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