A Tale Of Two Cities
Federal Judge Faced with Opposing Visions of Police in Chicago
U.S. District Judge Robert Dow in Chicago has now entered a Dickensian world, one where two wholly incompatible visions of the city exist side by side.
One case is about a move for a takeover of the Chicago Police Department on allegations that it is crooked. The other is a bombshell lawsuit alleging vast corruption among accusers of police misconduct.
Judge Dow is now tasked with ruling on these two narratives.
In the first, about a police takeover, the federal judge last week was handed a final draft of an agreement that would impose vast control of the Chicago Police Department to a federal monitor based upon an agreement called a consent decree. That consent decree was hammered out between Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Mayor Rahm Emanuel after Madigan sued the city on the claim that the police are corrupt and racist.
Madigan’s lawsuit was born from what was clearly a grave disappointment to the Democratic machine that governs the city: the surprise election of President Trump. Certainly no one in Chicago saw that election result coming. The political establishment no doubt assumed that a bizarre Department of Justice investigation (DOJ) of the CPD under the Obama administration, one devoid of statistics or any clear methodology, would inevitably generate a consent decree agreement with federal authorities.
But after Trump was elected, his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, rejected such a notion, condemning the investigation itself and consent decrees in general. Indeed, the record number of such agreements imposed in other cities during the Obama administration have for the most part increased violent crime, not diminished it, a point rarely addressed in the media. To many critical of the Obama administration, these agreements are another example of Obama’s “weaponizing” federal agencies, none more so than the Department of Justice, for his own political ends.
With AG Sessions rejecting a federal consent decree, it was up to Madigan to file one of her own. To do so, Madigan has to break new legal ground, attempting to bring a lawsuit into federal court when she, as a state attorney general, does not have standing to do so. At least that is what attorneys for the Fraternal Order of Police are arguing in their attempt to have the lawsuit tossed.
Far from protecting the police or the citizens from such an intrusive, wildly expensive federal monitor, Mayor Emanuel has been working hand in hand with Madigan’s office, the two in theory opposing parties in a lawsuit but in truth conspiring to impose it. The reason is that Democratic politicians must now cower to the anti-police movement rather than back the police. Each city run by a Democratic machine is a virtual powder keg of violent crime for their citizens, even as they prattle on about protecting the public, none more so than Chicago.
So, Judge Dow is reviewing the case against the police by Madigan and Emanuel.
But here’s the problem. Judge Dow is clearly aware that there are grave problems with the narrative Madigan, Emanuel, and the media are foisting upon the public.
The reason is that Dow was the presiding judge over a landmark lawsuit, a lawsuit claiming that the thirty-year narrative of police corruption relentlessly pushed by the media and the talking heads in Chicago is largely a fraud.
It was the lawsuit by a man named Alstory Simon who claimed he was coerced in 1999 into confessing to a 1982 double murder he didn’t commit so that a man named Anthony Porter could be released from death row. Simon himself was released from prison in 2014 after prosecutors finally reviewed his case for a year and decided to vacate his conviction.
Simon’s confession to the murders was obtained by “investigators” at Northwestern University, including former professor David Protess and his private investigator Paul Ciolino, both of whom were also defendants in the case. Simon’s attorneys didn’t just argue that this one case was dirty. They employed a phrase normally sacrosanct to the anti-police movement: pattern. Simon’s attorneys alleged misconduct in case after case.
Another institution that does not fare too well in the Simon lawsuit is the local media, particularly the Chicago Tribune. The paper covered the Porter case with a hysteria rarely seen in the media up to that point. Now this hysteria is the common state of the paper.
And in the courtroom of Judge Dow when this case was unfolding, there was hardly ever a reporter attending, and there was certainly no report issued from Lisa Madigan, nor any comment from Emanuel about the case involving his alma mater. There were no calls for federal investigations here, no calls for reform.
The Anthony Porter exoneration spurred dozens and dozens of exonerations and hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements of “wrongful convictions” based on allegations of police misconduct.
In the years that the Alstory Simon lawsuit was before Dow, many depositions were taken, much evidence gathered.
It would be nearly impossible to argue that Northwestern University and Protess wouldn’t have fought this case all the way to trial if they thought they could have won. The reason is that Northwestern is deep in the wrongful conviction business, and it is no doubt a painful and dangerous thing for them to see their seminal case, the foundational case of their movement, ripped to shreds.
So, when the university announced a few months ago that they were settling with Simon, well, it is easy enough to draw one’s own conclusions.
So just after sifting through the long narrative of the Simon lawsuit and seeing so much of the evidence, Dow now has this federal lawsuit by Madigan and Emanuel to contend with, the two visions wholly incompatible.
In the backdrop of the Alstory Simon lawsuit, Madigan and Emanuel are transformed. Both of them presided over their public offices during the unfolding of the Porter scandal and several others, both remained silent about the corruption in the movement and allowed the City of Chicago to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements, settlements the FOP has argued they should not have made.
In short, it is a vision of two machine hack politicians first bankrupting the city, then letting it simmer in violent crime, all to preserve their own political power.
It’s a tale of two cities, and Dow must weigh them out.