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Eric Caine v. Jon Burge

June 27, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Virginia M. Kendall


Eric Caine served twenty-five years in prison for a murder conviction which was later vacated. He now sues the City of Chicago, former City of Chicago police officers Jon Burge, James Pienta, Raymond Madigan, William Marley, William Pederson, Daniel McWeeny, and unidentified employees of the City of Chicago (collectively "the Defendants") alleging that he was tortured into confessing to the murder. Caine now seeks redress in this Court for the allegedly unconstitutional acts of the individual Defendants in connection with his arrest, torture and prosecution. He also seeks redress from the City of Chicago for sanctioning, through official policy or custom, the allegedly unconstitutional acts of the individual Defendants. Caine asserts claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for the denial of due process (Count I); for being coerced into giving a false confession in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment (Count III); for being coerced into giving a false confession in violation of the Fifth Amendment (Count IV); for a violation of the equal protection of the laws (Count V); for conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. § 1985 (Count VI); for conspiracy under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (Count VII); and for a failure to intervene (Count IX). In addition, Caine brings supplemental state-law claims for malicious prosecution (Count X); intentional infliction of emotional distress (Count XI); respondeat superior (Count XII); and indemnification (Count XIII).*fn1 Defendants move to dismiss certain counts of his Complaint.

I. Background

In deciding the instant Motion, the Court assumes the veracity of the well-plead allegations in the Complaint and construes all reasonable inferences in Caine's favor. See Killingsworth v. HSBC Bank, 507 F.3d 614, 618 (7th Cir. 2007) (citing Savory v. Lyons, 469 F.3d 667, 670 (7th Cir. 2006)). On April 19, 1986, an elderly Hispanic couple, Rafaela and Vincent Sanchez, were discovered dead in their Chicago home. Among the officers present at the crime scene was Chicago Police Lieutenant Jon Burge, who was also the Chicago Police Department's Area Two Commander at the time. On April 22, 1986, Area Two detectives arrested Michael Arbuckle in connection with the murders. While at Area Two, Arbuckle was placed in an office and questioned about the murders by Burge and Gang Crimes Officer Kolowitz. The officers told Arbuckle that the person they really wanted to arrest was Aaron Patterson and they attempted to get Arbuckle to implicate Patterson in the Sanchez murders. When Arbuckle refused, Burge threatened him with the death penalty and told him that he would get him to cooperate one way or another. The next morning, Burge questioned Arbuckle again and threatened him that he would get some drug dealers to testify against him for the murders if he refused to cooperate. Despite Burge's threats, Arbuckle denied any involvement in the murders and refused to implicate Patterson.

On April 30, 1986, Chicago police arrested Aaron Patterson in connection with the Sanchez murders. Defendants Pienta, Marley, and Pederson transferred him to Area Two headquarters. Later than day, Defendants Pienta, Marley, Pederson and other Defendant Officers questioned him about the Sanchez murders in an interrogation room while he was hand-cuffed to the wall. In the evening, Pienta told Patterson that he was "tired of this bullshit." Patterson denied any involvement in the murders. Pienta left the interrogation room and returned with a gray plastic typewriter cover. At the time Patterson was handcuffed behind his back. Pienta, Marley, and Pederson, together with other Defendant Officers, turned off the lights, placed the plastic cover over Patterson's head, and struck him repeatedly in the chest. The typewrite cover was held against his mouth and nose, constricting his breathing for over a minute. According to Patterson, when he still did not confess he was beaten and suffocated a second time by the same officers. Afraid that he would be suffocated to death, Patterson acquiesced and told the Officers that he would do "anything you say" in order to make the torture stop.

Patterson says that while alone in the interrogation room, he scratched into the bench that he was tortured and that his statement to the police was false. Later, Assistant State's Attorney Kip Owen and Burge came to speak with him. Patterson asked Owen to force Burge to leave, and when Owen agreed, Patterson told Owen that he wanted a lawyer and had nothing to say. Owen immediately opened the door, revealing Burge on the other side. Owen told Burge that Patterson refused to give a statement. When Owen left the room, Burge entered, screaming "You're fucking up," pulled out his revolver and placed it on top of the table. According to Patterson, Burge told him that "if you don't do what we tell you to, you're going to get something worse than before. . .it will have been a snap compared to what you will get." Burge continued to threaten Patterson, telling him that he could do anything he wanted to do to him.

Later, Assistant State's Attorney Peter Troy entered the interrogation room with Madigan. Patterson told them that he would confess if he could call his family and an attorney. Troy and Madigan agreed. After Patterson made the calls he refused to make a statement or sign a statement written by Troy. Madigan, accompanied by Troy, then beat Patterson again. Defendant McWeeny then entered the room and explained that he was one of the "good cops" at Area Two; one who did not torture detainees. McWeeny urged Patterson to cooperate because the other detectives "could do something serious to him if he didn't." After McWeeny left, Patterson scratched another message into the bench, saying that he signed a false statement to murders and that "Tonto" on the statement is the code word. A third message was scratched into the door frame of the interrogation room. The message simply said, "Aaron lied." All of Patterson's etchings were later documented in a memorandum by Pienta to Burge. On May 1, 1986, at 2:45 p.m., according to Patterson, he finally broke down in the face of continuing torture and made a false oral statement implicating himself in the Sanchez murders and claiming that Caine was present at the murder scene.

On May 1, 1986, Defendants Pienta and Pederson, and Area Two Sergeant Wilson arrested Caine based solely on Patterson's statement. No other evidence pointed to Caine's involvement in the Sanchez murders. During the ride to the police station, Caine repeatedly denied any involvement in the murders. Pienta told Caine that they would have killed him during the arrest but for Caine's mother's friendship with Sgt. Wilson. When brought to Area Two headquarters, Pienta and Marley interrogated Caine. Pienta told Caine that Patterson had confessed to the murders. Caine insisted that he knew nothing about the killings.

At 11:45 p.m., Pienta brought Caine into Patterson's interrogation room. When Caine saw Patterson he looked like he had been beaten. When Caine was returned to his own interrogation room, Pienta struck Caine in the chest and told him that he would get the same treatment as Patterson unless he was "cool." Caine spent the night locked in an interrogation room at Area Two headquarters.

While interrogating Caine the next day, Madigan began describing the murders. For a long period of time, while Caine remained silent, Madigan repeated key points of the confession that he wanted Caine to recite. Shortly thereafter, Madigan presented Caine with his notes for Caine to study and so that he could sign them as his own statement. When Caine refused to sign the false confession, Madigan struck Caine with a cupped hand on the side of his head. Caine heard a loud pop and felt a rush of pain. Caine cried out and doubled over in agony, as Madigan tried to quiet him. The strike to Caine's head ruptured his eardrum.

Tired, fearful, and in pain from his ruptured eardrum, Caine signed the notes because he feared additional violence and wanted to go home. Later that day, Caine was brought into a room with Assistant State's Attorneys Peter Troy and William Lacey and Madigan. At 5:15 a.m. the next morning, in excruciating pain from being struck in the head and held all night, Caine signed the false confession.

No evidence other than Caine's and Patterson's false and coerced confessions was ever introduced at Caine's trial. The police found fingerprints at the crime scene that did not match Caine or Patterson or any of the victims. Caine testified in his own defense at his trial and continued to maintain his innocence. Caine also testified about the physical violence that he suffered at the hands of Madigan and Pienta while being interrogated. The jury nevertheless convicted Caine of murder, home invasion and residential burglary. Caine was sentenced to a term of life imprisonment.

Caine's jury did not hear testimony from Mack Ray at Caine's trial. Ray subsequently testified that Wayne Washington confessed to him that he and his brother Willie Washington actually committed the Sanchez murders. Unknown to Caine, and following his coerced confession, according to Ray, Ray went to the police station at 103rd Street and tried to tell several detectives that Washington had confessed to the murders. But the detectives threatened Ray and said he would "end up dead" if he did not stay quiet. In fear that something would happen to him if he interfered, Ray left town. Willie Washington lived next door to the Sanchezes. Washington has since been convicted of several other incidents of felony residential burglary and home invasion. Washington is currently serving a 30-year sentence for a home invasion in which he broke into the home of his neighbor and stabbed her nine times in the neck, seven times in the upper spine, eight times in the chest, and once in the hand. Caine's jury never heard this exculpatory evidence from Ray because the Defendant Officers withheld it from Caine, his defense team, and the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

In January, 2003, then Governor of Illinois George Ryan granted Patterson and three other death row inmates allegedly tortured by Burge and other Area Two detectives pardons on the basis of their innocence.*fn2 On March 16, 2011, Caine's conviction was vacated. The State immediately dismissed the charges and Caine ...

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