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Cannon v. Burge

August 20, 2007

DARRELL CANNON, PLAINTIFF,
v.
FORMER CHICAGO POLICE LT. JON BURGE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Amy J. St. Eve, District Court Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Before the Court is Plaintiff Darrell Cannon's Motion to Compel the Deposition Testimony of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. In his original Complaint, Cannon alleged that certain personnel with the City of Chicago, the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Cook County, and the City itself violated his civil rights by torturing him during interrogations held at the Chicago Police Department's Area 2 Detective Division under the direction of Former Chicago Police Lieutenant Jon Burge. In a recent order, the Court granted in part and denied in part Cannon's Motion for Leave to File an Amended Complaint. Relevant to this motion, the Court denied Cannon's motion to add Mayor Daley and former Chicago Mayor Jane Byrne as Defendants to this lawsuit, and Cannon's attempt to add a claim under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. § 1961 et seq. For the following reasons, the Court denies Cannon's Motion to Compel the Deposition of Mayor Daley without prejudice with leave to refile if and when the Court lifts the stay of Monell discovery in this matter.

LEGAL STANDARD

"Parties may obtain discovery regarding any matter, not privileged, that is relevant to the claim or defense of any party.... Relevant information need not be admissible at the trial if the discovery appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence."

Fed.R.Civ.P. 26(b)(1) (emphasis added). In the context of motions to compel, the Seventh Circuit instructs that a "district court may grant or deny the motion in whole or in part, and similar to ruling on a request for a protective order under Rule 26(c), the district court may fashion a ruling appropriate for the circumstances of the case." Gile v. United Air Lines, Inc., 95 F.3d 492, 496 (7th Cir. 1996) (citing Fed.R.Civ.P. 37(a)(4)(B), (C)). "Thus, a district court is not limited to either compelling or not compelling a discovery request; in making its ruling, a district court should independently determine the proper course of discovery based upon the arguments of the parties." Id. As with all discovery matters, district courts have broad discretion in determining motions to compel. See id.; see also Reynolds v. Jamison, 488 F.3d 756, 761 (7th Cir. 2007).

BACKGROUND

On November 13, 2006, the Court granted in part and denied in part the City's motion to bar discovery and trial of policy claims brought pursuant to Monell v. Department of Soc. Servs. of New York, 436 U.S. 658, 98 S.Ct. 2018, 56 L.Ed.2d 611 (1978). (R. 163-1, 11/13/06, Monell Discovery Order.) Specifically, the Court stayed "'purely Monell' fact and expert discovery through the resolution of any summary judgment motions on the liability of the individual defendants." (Id. at 1.) The Court also reasoned:

The Court is confident in the ability of parties' counsel to differentiate between "Monell" discovery and discovery directed at the claims against the other defendants. While some blurring may occur at the outer boundaries -- and Defendants are advised to give Plaintiff leeway in investigating those areas -- it generally is not difficult to discern whether discovery is directed at violations committed against Cannon by specific named defendants or at the broad policies and practices of the City of Chicago. The Court accordingly finds that a stay on Monell discovery will provide significant efficiency benefits in this case. (Id. at 3.)

On November 10, 2006, Cannon noticed Mayor Daley for a deposition to take place on December 18, 2006. (R. 188-2, Mot. Compel, Ex. A.) The City objected to the deposition notice based on the Court's order staying Monell discovery, among other factors. (Mot. Compel, Ex. B, 12/12/06 letter.) Meanwhile, on February 21, 2007, Magistrate Judge Brown ordered Mayor Daley to sit for a deposition concerning Monell discovery in a similar matter, Hobley v. Burge, No. 03 C 3678, 2007 WL 551569 (N.D. Ill. Feb. 22, 2007). Thereafter, Cannon wrote the City seeking reconsideration of its objection based on Judge Brown's decision, as well as Cannon's unsuccessful attempt to add Mayor Daley as a Defendant to this action. (Mot. Compel, Ex. C, 2/26/07 letter.) The City maintains its objection to Mayor Daley's deposition.

ANALYSIS

I. Depositions of Public Officials

As the Seventh Circuit has recognized, "depositions of public officials create unique concerns." Stagman v. Ryan, 176 F.3d 986, 994-95 (7th Cir. 1999); see also Crawford-El v. Britton, 523 U.S. 574, 597-98, 118 S.Ct. 1584, 140 L.Ed.2d 759 (1998) (district court "must exercise its discretion so that officials are not subjected to unnecessary and burdensome discovery or trial proceedings."). Specifically, public officials "should not have to spend their time giving depositions in cases arising out of the performance of their official duties unless there is some reason to believe that the deposition will produce or lead to admissible evidence."

Olivieri v. Rodriguez, 122 F.3d 406, 409-10 (7th Cir. 1997). Thus, the Court must determine whether Mayor Daley's deposition will produce or lead to admissible evidence in this matter within the parameters of the Court's order staying Monell discovery. See Bagley v. Blagojevich, 486 F.Supp.2d 786, 789 (C.D. Ill. 2007); see also Hobley, 2007 WL 551569, at *2 ("A party seeking the deposition of a high ranking official should first ...


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