New charges that city withheld evidence

Curtis Black / View from the ground (CIMC Repost)

Faced yet again with charges that city lawyers withheld evidence in a civil rights trial, the city last week abruptly settled a lawsuit stemming from a non-fatal shooting. It’s the third time in a year – and the tenth time since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office in 2011 – that the city has faced legal sanctions for concealing evidence.

The amount of the new settlement is not known. Settlements and jury verdicts in cases where the city was found to have concealed evidence have totaled $45 million since 2011.

The settlement was announced at a hearing Thursday where U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmayer said she intended to set sanctions. The lawsuit was brought by Jacquise Evans, who was 16 when he was shot in 2015. At issue are records of civilian complaints against Sgt. Richard Salvador, a video in which he threatened and verbally abused a suspect, and a lawsuit that city attorneys failed to disclose.

The law department issued a statement saying it is reviewing the case “to determine if any personnel action is warranted,” and adding, “We are examining our discovery policies and procedures to identify improvements and will be adjusting training to ensure that any mistakes are not repeated.”

It’s one year since the law department said it had entirely implemented some 50 recommendations from a review of its handling of discovery requests by plaintiffs’ attorneys, conducted by former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb, whose firm was paid $1.6 million. In a report one civil rights lawyer termed a “whitewash,” Webb found no pattern of misconduct. His recommendations included improved training, better communication with CPD, and better document management systems.

“I think it’s time for someone to step up to how the city generally is handling the defense of these cases, how it’s keeping records,” Pallmayer said, according to the Tribune. “Because the number of times there have been problems of one nature or another has just escalated, and this episode is just as distressing as any.”

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