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Attorneys in Burge suit demand deposition from Daley

Lawyers in a Chicago police torture case want a federal judge to force former MayorRichard M. Daleyto sit for questioning about his knowledge of suspects interrogated by detectives commanded by Jon Burge.

A motion filed Tuesday by lawyers for Michael Tillman, who has alleged that he was beaten, burned, smothered and threatened with death in 1986 by Chicago detectives working under Burge to coerce a confession to the rape and murder of a South Side woman, said city lawyers representing Daley for months have dragged their feet, ignoring requests for a videotaped deposition from the former mayor.

"We have patiently waited ... for seven months for the city to produce defendant Richard Daley for his deposition testimony. So now we are taking the gloves off," Tillman's attorney Flint Taylor said in a statement.

"We intend to question them about what they knew about the Burge torture scandal, when they knew it and why they did not stop it," he said.

The motion states that Tillman's lawyers first tried to set up the deposition for September 2011, but that was delayed when city attorneys objected. City attorneys twice were to discuss terms for the questioning, but a hearing in November was canceled after Daley's wife, Maggie, died.

Since November, Tillman's lawyers said the city has ignored multiple requests to reschedule. Tillman's lawyers last contacted the city in February, seeking a meeting in March.

Roderick Drew, spokesman for the city's Law Department, said in an email that "former Mayor Richard M. Daley has cooperated with the investigation in this case. He has been willing to appear for the deposition, but understandably, his deposition was delayed following the loss of his wife, Mrs. Daley."

"To date, some depositions have been taken thus far, and we expect that the deposition of former Mayor Daley and the plaintiff will proceed in due course," Drew added.

The suit is one of a string of civil rights cases filed against Burge and the city over forced confessions and torture practices that were commonplace during Burge's time as head detective in Area 3 — and while Daley was Cook County state's attorney.

The suit points out that high-ranking city and county officials have given depositions in previous Burge torture cases, including former police Superintendent Leroy Martin and Richard Devine, a top assistant to Daley when he was state's attorney who later became the county's chief prosecutor himself.

Tillman's lawsuit claims that Daley was aware of the torture of suspects while acting as state's attorney and that while Daley was mayor, he aided in a cover-up.

Tillman was freed in January 2010 after spending more than 23 years in prison for the 1986 rape and murder of Betty Howard after special prosecutors declined to retry him, saying there was little evidence he committed the crime and ample evidence that his confession was coerced.

Burge was sentenced last year to 41/2 years in prison for lying about the torture and abuse of criminal suspects.

agrimm@tribune.com

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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