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Patterson v. Burge

September 27, 2010


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Joan B. Gottschall


Currently before the court are two motions for summary judgment filed by defendants Richard Devine and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office ("SAO"). For the following reasons, the court grants both motions.*fn1

I. Background

On April 30, 1986, Patterson was arrested and transported to Area 2 Headquarters of the Chicago Police Department by several police officer defendants after Chicago police had discovered the bodies of Rafaela and Vincent Sanchez in their apartment in Chicago on April 19, 1986. Def.'s R.56.1(a)(3) SMT. ("Def.'s SOF") ¶ 15. After he was brought into an interview room, Patterson was handcuffed to a wall and questioned by Area 2 detectives about the Sanchez homicides. Id. ¶ 16. After Patterson denied any involvement in the homicides, he was subjected to physical abuse*fn2 by Area 2 detectives until he said he would agree with anything they said. Id. Patterson then refused to make a statement and was further abused by Area 2 detectives. Id. The Area 2 detectives, together with two Assistant State's Attorneys, "constructed false oral admissions and false written statements" which they attributed to Patterson and his co-defendant and "reduced [the] fabricated statements and coerced false admissions into official reports and communicated them to prosecuting attorneys who in turn presented this false evidence at motion hearings and during the prosecution of Aaron Patterson." Id. (quoting Third Amended Complaint ("TAC") at ¶¶ 33-34).

After a jury trial in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Patterson was convicted of the Sanchez murders and sentenced to death; his conviction and sentence were affirmed on direct appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court on December 4, 1992. Id. ¶ 17; People v. Patterson, 610 N.E.2d 16, 21-22 (Ill. 1992) ("Patterson I"). On appeal from his conviction, Patterson asserted that his confession was coerced and that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress and refusing to suppress Patterson's and his co-defendant's statements. Id. ¶ 18. The Illinois Supreme Court rejected Patterson's claim and concluded that there was no evidence that Patterson was beaten and nearly suffocated. Id.

Patterson filed a state post-conviction petition in which he raised several constitutional claims, including ineffective assistance of trial and appellate counsel. Id. ¶ 19. The trial court granted the state's motion to dismiss the petition. People v. Patterson, 735 N.E.2d 616, 624 (Ill. 2000) ("Patterson II"). On appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court concluded, in part, that Patterson's counsel was not ineffective for failing to uncover evidence related to other allegations of Area 2 torture. Id.; see also Def.'s SOF ¶ 20. The Illinois Supreme Court further concluded that, even if Patterson's counsel had sought to raise any similarity between Patterson's and Andrew Wilson's (another criminal defendant alleging torture at the hands of Area 2 officers)*fn3 allegations of abuse, no reasonable probability existed that the trial court would have found the evidence admissible, or that a decision to exclude such evidence would have been reversed on appeal. Id. ¶ 21; Patterson II, 735 N.E.2d at 632. The court noted that the Wilson incident occurred more than four years before Patterson's arrest, and that, at the time of Patterson's trial, Wilson believed that he was tortured because Area 2 police officers routinely tortured those accused of killing police officers. Id.

On January 10, 2003, while Patterson's post-conviction proceedings were still pending, former Governor George Ryan pardoned Patterson, along with three other death-row inmates. Id. ¶ 23. Devine's Involvement with Patterson's Case Devine served as First Assistant State's Attorney of Cook County from 1980 to 1983. Id. ¶ 12. In 1983, Devine left the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. Id. ¶ 13. During the time of Patterson's arrest, interrogation, trial and direct appeal, Devine was not employed by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office. Id. ¶ 25.

In 1983, Devine left the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and went into private practice at the firm of Foran, Wiss & Schultz until 1985, when he joined the law firm of Phelan, Pope & John as a partner. Id. William Kunkle (now a judge in the Cook County Circuit Court) also joined Phelan, Pope & John as a partner in 1985. Id. ¶ 30. In 1988, the City of Chicago engaged Kunkle to represent the City and several members of the Chicago Police Department, including Jon Burge, in a suit brought by Andrew Wilson against the City based on torture Wilson endured while being interrogated at Area 2. Id. Kunkle was the lead attorney and the originating and billing partner for Phelan, Pope & John on the Wilson case, for which he had primary responsibility and supervised a team of twenty-five lawyers and paralegals working on the litigation. Id. ¶ 32. Kunkle's team billed a total of 4,960.75 hours over a period of more than four years for work performed on the Wilson case. Id. ¶ 39. According to Kunkle, Kunkle himself was Burge's attorney and Devine did not: (1) serve as Burge's attorney; (2) act as a member of the working team on the Wilson matter; (3) have any substantive participation in the case; (4) file an appearance on behalf of Burge; (5) take part in any confidential client meetings with the City of Chicago, Burge, or any other police defendants in the Wilson matter; (6) have any phone conversations with Burge regarding Wilson, or any Area 2 matters, and never sat in on any such phone conversations with Kunkle; or (7) attend Wilson's trial. Id. ¶¶ 33-36, 42-44.

Devine did, however, have some involvement with Wilson's civil case. Devine's involvement in the Wilson case involved consulting with other attorneys on procedural matters in federal court. Id. ¶ 37. In addition, Devine once appeared in court for Kunkle in the Wilson matter to secure a continuance because Kunkle was out of town. Id. ¶ 38. During the eleven months Devine had any involvement in the Wilson case, he billed a total of 24.5 hours on that case.

In December 1996, Devine left Phelan, Pope & John to become the elected State's Attorney for Cook County. Id. ¶ 14. As State's Attorney, Devine initiated a review of all claims alleging abuse at Area 2 prior to his tenure as State's Attorney. Id. ¶ 60. After an initial review, Devine determined that the statute of limitations would bar prosecution relating to any such claims. Id. Devine further directed that an outside individual be appointed to conduct a similar review; that individual confirmed Devine's conclusion. Id. Thereafter, a Special State's Attorney, who was appointed by the Presiding Judge of the Criminal Division of Cook County, independently reached the same conclusion. Id.

II. Analysis

Patterson's TAC, which he filed after the court granted in part and denied in part motions to dismiss, asserts the following claims against Devine: violation of his due process right to a fair trial under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (count I); state law claim of malicious prosecution (count V); intentional infliction of emotional distress (count VI); and conspiracy (count VII). Against the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, Patterson brings claims of respondeat superior (count VIII) and indemnification (count IX). Patterson has filed a pro se response to the motions currently before the court. In order to ascertain and analyze Patterson's arguments, the court has considered the TAC and Patterson's pro se response.

A. Claim I -- § 1983 against Devine

To prevail on a § 1983 claim, a plaintiff must prove that the defendant: (1) deprived the plaintiff of a federal constitutional right; and (2) acted under color of state law. Reynolds v. Jamison, 488 F.3d 756, 764 (7th Cir. 2007). In addition, "[s]section 1983 creates a cause of action based upon personal liability and predicated upon fault. An individual cannot be held liable in a § 1983 action unless he caused or participated in an ...

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