For the second time in four months a federal court judge has ruled former Mayor Richard M. Daley can be sued in an ongoing legal battle over allegations of police torture, NBC Chicago and the Sun Times has learned.
U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer Wednesday denied a motion to reconsider, again setting the stage for Daley to be deposed by attorneys representing men who claim they were tortured by a small band of Chicago police officers in the 1970s and '80s.
Attorneys for Daley, paid for by the city, appealed the judge’s July ruling only to be turned down in an 11-page motion filed Wednesday.
A spokesman for the City Law Department said Pallmeyer's order was being reviewed.
"We are determining next steps," said Roderick Drew. "The order raises complicated legal issues that we are examining."
Attorneys for Daley had successfully fought an earlier deposition in anticipation of the judge’s ruling.
"We have patiently awaited this decision before proceeding to question Daley under oath at a deposition," said plaintiff’s attorney G. Flint Taylor. "Now the path is clear, Daley has no legitimate grounds to object, so we will tomorrow subpoena Daley for questioning in early December."
Taylor represents Michael Tillman who spent 23 years in prison for a murder for which he was later exonerated.
In her July ruling Pallmeyer wrote that Daley could be listed as a defendant in the Tillman civil lawsuit. Among those named in the suit are Jon Burge, 63, a former Police Commander now in prison and the former mayor.
As Cook County State’s Attorney from 1980 to 1989, Daley is granted prosecutorial immunity. But as mayor, Pallmeyer ruled Daley doesn’t have the same privilege.
In the lawsuit, Taylor, of the People’s Law Office, says the former mayor was part of a conspiracy to cover-up the torture allegations.
Pallmeyer, in her original ruling, wrote that Tillman and his attorneys had "presented more than ‘naked assertions’ and his conspiracy claim survives."
In her ruling denying the Daley motion to reconsider Pallmeyer wrote, “The court concludes that Plaintiff sufficiently alleged that Daley, as Mayor, participated in a conspiracy that included the concealment of exculpatory evidence.”
“Michael is also very, very happy,” Taylor said adding his client, “looks forward to his lawyers questioning Daley for his decades long role in the police torture scandal.”
Tillman was released from prison last year after special prosecutors for Cook County found there was no reliable evidence against him. Tillman originally confessed to the murder but only after he says he was tortured by Chicago police officers under the command of Jon Burge.
In an August interview Tillman recalled his 1986 interrogation.
“I was hit with the fist, the phone book, I had a plastic bag placed over my head repeatedly,” he said. “I had a gun put to my head while I was on my knees. I had a 7UP poured down my nose. I was hit in the leg with a flashlight. I felt like a slave, tied to a tree that couldn’t do nothing ‘cause I was always bound.”
Burge was convicted in 2010 of obstruction of justice and lying in a civil law suit when asked if he had any knowledge or participation of police torture. He is currently serving a four and a half year sentence in a federal prison in North Carolina.
Tillman’s attorneys argue Daley knew of police torture dating back to the 1982 case of convicted cop killer Andrew and Jackie Wilson. Daley, as State’s Attorney, according to Taylor received a letter from the head physician at Cook County jail that stated Andrew Wilson had been beaten.
In the years to follow more than 100 other men, almost all African-American, claimed they too had been subjected to police torture.
Both sides in the Tillman case are to appear in Federal Court Friday for discovery motions.