Name of Assigned Sitting Judge if Judge or Magistrate Elaine E. Bucklo Other than Michael T. Mason Judge Assigned Judge
Defendant City of Chicago's Motion to Compel  is granted in part and denied in part. Plaintiff is to submit supplemental Rule 26(a)(1) disclosures by 10/25/10. Plaintiff is also reminded of his obligation to continue to supplement his interrogatory responses as discovery proceeds. For more detail, see below.
O[ For further details see text below.] Docketing to mail notices.
In 1983, Plaintiff Alton Logan ("Plaintiff") was prosecuted and convicted of the murder of Lloyd Wycliffe, an off-duty sergeant with the Cook County Department of Corrections. Plaintiff was arrested and interrogated by officers of the Chicago Police Department at Area 2 police headquarters. After serving twenty-six years in prison, Plaintiff was exonerated by physical evidence and eyewitness testimony, and obtained a Certificate of Innocence in 2009. He subsequently filed this lawsuit against a number of officers of the Chicago Police Department, as well as the City of Chicago ("the City"), alleging misconduct in connection with his wrongful conviction. The Complaint includes two Monell claims against the City. Plaintiff alleges that at the time of his conviction, there was a widespread practice of withholding exculpatory information from criminal defendants in so-called "street files," and that the City employed a policy and practice of pursuing and securing false convictions through profoundly flawed investigations.
The City has filed a motion to compel, requesting that the Court order the plaintiff to provide more detailed responses to seventeen out of the eighteen interrogatories the City has served on Plaintiff. Each of these interrogatories relates to Plaintiff's Monell claims, and the City argues that it is entitled to specific information supporting each of Plaintiff's allegations. In response, Plaintiff argues that the City's motion to compel is premature at this stage in the litigation. Plaintiff argues he has answered the City's interrogatories to the best of his ability at this point, and that without more discovery, he cannot provide the City with any more information with respect to these allegations. Plaintiff notes that he has attempted to obtain some of the information at issue through the depositions of a number of city employees, but these employees have refused to answer questions about their involvement out of fear of criminal liability, and have instead invoked their right to silence under the Fifth Amendment. Plaintiff states that he intends to obtain additional information as discovery proceeds and he will supplement his responses accordingly.
The City also objects to the form of Plaintiff's Rule 26(a)(1) disclosures. We address Plaintiff's answers to the City's interrogatories as well as Plaintiff's Rule 26(a)(1) disclosures below.
Interrogatories Nos. 2 through 17 ask Plaintiff to state with specificity the factual basis for the Monell allegations in the Complaint. We begin our analysis with Interrogatory No. 2, which states:
State with specificity the factual basis for your contention in [Paragraph] 42 of your Complaint that the unconstitutional withholding of exculpatory information from Plaintiff's defense in this case, as well as the subsequent destruction of some of the same, was all undertaken pursuant to, and proximately caused by, policies and practices on the part of the Chicago Police Department, and identify any specific incidents, witnesses, documents, and statements supporting your contention in 42.
In his response to Interrogatory No. 2, Plaintiff describes in great detail the policies and practices of the Chicago Police Department for keeping files, memoranda, and interview and investigation notes during the relevant time period. In particular, Plaintiff cites to the testimony of Frank Laverty, that "it was the policy and practice of homicide detectives to keep certain exculpatory materials (including notes, Memos, and other documentation relating to ongoing investigations) away from the Official File which was produced to criminal defendants in discovery." Plaintiff describes the common practice in prolonged investigations for detectives to keep "unit" and/or "street files," which were separate from Official Files. Only Official Files were submitted to defense counsel in response to a subpoena; memoranda, reports and other documents that were maintained in unit or street files were not disclosed to defense counsel and were subsequently destroyed. Plaintiff also cites Mr. Laverty's testimony to state that "it was standard practice for some investigators and supervisors in Area 2 to exclude from the official reports all aspects of the investigation that were inconsistent with the main story line of the investigation," i.e., omitting evidence that contradicted key witnesses, showed a lack of credibility or established that their testimony was false or coerced.
In addition, in his response to Interrogatory No. 2, Plaintiff cites to the findings of fact made by Judge Shadur in Palmer v. City of Chicago, 562 F. Supp. 1067, 1069 (N.D. Ill. 1983), regarding file keeping at the Chicago Police Department during the relevant time period, as well as the deposition testimony of seven detectives in Evans v. Chicago, which also corroborates Mr. Laverty's testimony. According to the testimony of these detectives, Plaintiff explains, during the relevant time period, there were no guidelines, training or protocol regarding what information detectives should keep in official police reports or how detectives should collect information to respond to a subpoena from a criminal defendant.
Plaintiff also states in his response to Interrogatory No. 2 that in 1973, the Chicago Police Department disseminated a Training Bulletin regarding case report preparation. The Training Bulletin was in response to an Illinois Supreme Court revision to discovery rules permitting a defense attorney to impeach witnesses and police officers with police reports. The Training Bulletin advised that "to assist the State in its prosecution ... reporting officers are to eliminate their conclusions, opinions, feelings and evaluations of witnesses and facts from the narrative portion of the original case report." According to Mr. Laverty and another witness, this Training Bulletin caused detectives to omit certain notes and memos from the official file produced to a criminal defendant.
The City argues that Plaintiff's response to Interrogatory No. 2 is insufficient because Plaintiff has failed to specifically identify what, if any, exculpatory and impeaching information was withheld from Plaintiff's criminal defense team. The City also objects to this response because Plaintiff has failed to specifically identify other incidents where exculpatory information was withheld from a criminal defendant. The City argues that Plaintiff should have this ...