Ex-Chicago attorney's cases examined after judge's ruling
Jan. 06, 2016
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago's law department is examining more than three dozen open cases that were being handled by a former top city attorney who resigned this week after a federal judge accused him of hiding evidence in a fatal police shooting, a department spokesman said Wednesday.
Bill McCaffrey said Jordan Marsh was either the supervisor or lead attorney in 37 police misconduct cases at the time the judge issued his ruling. McCaffrey said the decision to look at the cases was made by the head of the city's law department, Steve Patton, and that there are no plans to examine closed cases that Marsh worked on since joining the department in late 1997.
In a 72-page opinion Monday, U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang accused Marsh of hiding evidence and lying about it later in his work representing the city in a civil lawsuit brought by relatives of Darius Pinex, a 27-year-old black man shot and killed by police during a 2011 traffic stop in Chicago. Chang tossed out a jury's findings in April that the shooting was justified and ordered a new trial.
The ruling was another blow to the city and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who along with the Police Department have been trying to regain the trust of residents in the wake of the Laquan McDonald police shooting video. Released in November, the video shows white police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting the 17-year-old McDonald, who was black, 16 times as he walked away from police carrying a 3-inch knife that was later found to be folded.
Van Dyke, who faces first-degree murder charges, has pleaded not guilty.
While Emanuel has been moving to make dramatic changes to the Police Department and how officers are trained on the use of deadly force, the judge's ruling focuses on the work of an attorney who handled cases in the office that represents the city in police misconduct lawsuits.
The judge's ruling also prompted Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner to say on Wednesday he thinks a Justice Department civil rights investigation of the Police Department should be expanded to include the city's law department. The Republican governor also said Emanuel, a Democrat, showed a "failure of leadership" when he said Tuesday that a probe of the department isn't necessary.
Emanuel noted it's up to the Justice Department to determine what areas and offices to investigate.
"While we don't control or direct what the Department of Justice looks into, the Mayor has been clear that this administration will fully cooperate with whatever investigations they choose to undertake," spokeswoman Lauren Huffman said.
She also said the governor should stop "exploiting" Chicago and "start leading to solve the issues challenging the state."
Whether the investigation is broadened or not, attorneys who filed police misconduct lawsuits against the city might go back to re-examine those suits to determine if there was any law department misconduct.
Steve Greenberg, an attorney in the civil case Chang ruled on, said he would expect attorneys who sued the city in similar cases to take a close look for possible misconduct by the law department that might be grounds to have those cases reopened.
Marsh does not have a listed phone number and could not be reached for comment. His attorney did not immediately return a call for comment.
Associated Press writer Sara Burnett contributed to this report.