Weis Reamed by Judge

Chicago police superintendent won't be punished for withholding list

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    Chicago's top cop has handed over a list of officers who have had five or more complaints filed against them -- but a judge made clear that his refusal to do so last week was "intolerable."

    A federal judge delivered a blistering rebuke to police superintendant Jody Weis this morning, for defying a court order to turn over lists of officers with multiple allegations of excessive force.

    On Friday, after he was cited for contempt, Weis reluctantly tendered the lists. But he was ordered to appear in court today to explain his actions.

    Weis Responds to Judge's Tongue Lashing

    [CHI] Weis Responds to Judge's Tongue Lashing
    Chicago Police Supt. Jody Weis answers questions about why he hesitated to release the names of officers who have multiple allegations of wrongdoing against them. (Published Monday, Mar 9, 2009)

    Standing before Federal Judge Robert Gettleman, Weis said he had only wanted to protect officers who might appear on the lists who had actually been exonerated of any wrongdoing.

    "My intentions were not to offend the court in any way," he said. "I was just trying to protect my officers.".

    While he agreed that the superintendant had satisfied the scenario which found him in contempt, Gettleman said Weiss was guilty of a "clear and willfull" rejection of his order, saying Weis's actions fly in the face of "everything this court stands for."

    He called the superintendant's actions "intolerable".  "Doing something against the law or order of a court for whatever reasons is still against the order of the court, and is still unacceptable!"

    Quoting a ruling from another case, Gettleman declared, "Robin Hood may have been a noble criminal, but he was still a criminal."

    "You of all people shouldn't have sent that message! We shouldn't have had to have this proceeding at all."

    Gettleman said now that the lists had been tendered the court order was satisfied, but that the names would remain under seal. He refused to order sanctions against Weis, but said the city would be required to pay court costs.

    "I respectfully disagree," said attorney Flint Taylor, who sought the list. "I feel manipulated." Taylor accused Weis, and by extension, Mayor Daley, of acting in bad faith.

    But city attorneys said Weis had only been acting in the best interests of the officers involved. After court, the superintendent told reporters, "I was gravely concerned how this release would affect the men and women of the Chicago Police Department.  I did not make that decision lightly."

    Weis said he was concerned that the release of the names would send the wrong message to the rank and file members of the department, and could cause them to compromise their own safety.  "We cannot have officers, who are conducting their work and have to make split second decisions, having any hesitation or being timid in any way, wondering about if an allegation, which may or may not prove true is made against them and they would be on a list."

    The superintendent repeated his contention that many officers on the lists had actually been exonerated of the accusations against them.  Taylor rejected that argument, suggesting there are reasons some officers have dozens of complaints against them.

    "Those officers should be known by the community," he said.  "Because if they are not known, if they are protected by the superintendent, they are going to continue to beat people on the street."