Prison Inmates claiming they were tortured by former Chicago police commander jon burge will get their day in court. After 13 years of courtroom debate…hearing after hearing, the Honorable Paul Biebel, Presiding Judge, ordered an unpaid “special master” be appointed to work with attorneys to find out exactly how many men in the state penitentiary should have their torture claims reevaluated. David Yellen, the Dean of the Loyola University Law School will work with his students for free to come up with a list of approximately 15-25 people in need of new court hearings. Lawyers origianally asked the judge to grant them class action status in order to achieve the same end. That motion was denied-so the Judge came up with his own plan. Criteria to identify “valid claims” are:
Inmates had to have confessed to a crime and were convicted of it. They say the confession was the result of police abuse by Jon Burge and/or his officers. Petitioners had to have made police torture allegations in their original court proceedings. They must still be incarcerated and this must be the first hearing on a torture claim to be granted by the court.
Lawyers seeking class action status say this is a huge victory. They call the plan ingenious and thoughtful. They will now work with the special master to come up with the list and then the Judge will appoint pro bono attorneys to represent them. The next court hearing on the matter is scheduled for May 14th.
We were unable to speak with Dean Yellen about his new position. WGN was informed he is out of town.