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Scott v. City of Chicago

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

September 8, 2016

MARVIN SCOTT, Plaintiff,

          Marvin Scott, Plaintiff, represented by Lawrence Craig Redmond, Attorney at Law.

          City Of Chicago, Defendant, represented by Ellen Wight Mclaughlin, City Of Chicago Department Of Law.


          RUBÉN CASTILLO, Chief District Judge.

         This case addresses the aftermath of one of the darkest periods in Chicago Police Department ("CPD") history-the torture and abuse of more than one hundred suspects from 1972 to 1991 by now-disgraced CPD Commander Jon Burge ("Burge") and his subordinates. On May 6, 2015, over twenty years after Burge's firing, the Chicago City Council (the "City Council") passed the Reparations for Burge Torture Victims Ordinance (the "Ordinance"), which created a $5.5 million fund for the survivors of the police torture. Plaintiff Marvin Scott ("Scott") brings his complaint against the City of Chicago (the "City") pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that the Ordinance violates the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (R. 6, Compl.) Presently before the Court is Defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint. (R. 14, Mot.) For the reasons stated below, Defendant's motion is granted.


         I. Burge's Brutality: 1972-1991

         While Plaintiff's complaint does not delve into the crimes of Burge and his subordinates, a very brief history is necessary to put Plaintiff's claims into context.[1] Burge "joined the CPD in 1970 and rose to commanding officer of the violent crimes section in the 1980s, but his career was marked by accusations from over one hundred individuals who claimed that he and officers under his command tortured suspects in order to obtain confessions throughout the 1970s and 1980s." United States v. Burge, 711 F.3d 803, 807 (7th Cir. 2013). In fact, "Burge presided over an interrogation regime where suspects were suffocated with plastic bags, electrocuted until they lost consciousness, held down against radiators, and had loaded guns pointed at their heads during rounds of Russian roulette." Id. at 806. These interrogations took place in Area 2 and Area 3 of the CPD headquarters. People v. Wrice, 962 N.E.2d 934, 944 (111. 2012). Eventually, Burge was suspended in 1991 and fired in 1993. Burge, 711 F.3d at 807; see also Moore v. Burge, 771 F.3d 444, 448 (7th Cir. 2014). Many years later the Circuit Court of Cook County appointed special prosecutors to investigate the allegations of torture. Burge, 711 F.3d at 807. However, due to the statute of limitations, these special prosecutors never brought charges against Burge for the brutality that he inflicted. Id. In 2006, the State's Attorney released a report concluding that Burge and his colleagues had engaged in systematic torture of suspects. Wrice, 962 N.E.2d at 944-45 (summarizing the report's conclusions). While Burge was never convicted of the crimes that occurred at Area 2 and Area 3, he was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice for falsely denying under oath that he and detectives under his command had engaged in torture and abuse and that he was aware of this torture and physical abuse of suspects. Burge, 711 F.3d at 803 (affirming conviction).

         II. The Ordinance and Resolution

         On May 6, 2015, the City Council unanimously passed the Burge Reparations-Resolution (the "Resolution"), which extended a formal apology to the victims of Burge's torture. CHICAGO, ILL., BURGE REPARATIONS RESOLUTION SR2015-256 (2015). The Resolution recognized that Burge "was fired in 1993 for torturing a confession from a murder suspect" and that "[m]ore than 100 African-Americans who were detained by the Chicago Police Department between 1972 and 1991 have accused Burge or police officers working under his command of engaging in acts of torture and physical abuse." Id. at 1. The Resolution extended the following apology to the victims:

         WHEREAS, The City Council wishes to acknowledge this exceedingly sad and painful chapter in Chicago's history, and to formally express its profound regret for any and all shameful treatment of our fellow citizens that occurred; and

         WHEREAS, The City Council recognizes that words alone cannot adequately convey the deep regret and remorse that we and our fellow citizens feel for any and all harm that was inflicted by Burge and the officers under his command. And yet, words do matter. For only words can end the silence about wrongs that were committed and injustices that were perpetrated, and enable us, as a City, to take the steps necessary to ensure that similar acts never again occur in Chicago; and

         WHEREAS, The apology we make today is offered with the hope that it will open a new chapter in the history of our great City, a chapter marked by healing and an ongoing process of reconciliation; and

         WHEREAS, Just as a wrongful act followed by an apology, forgiveness and redemption is part of the shared human experience, so too is the widely held belief that actions speak louder than words[.]

          Id. The Resolution also promised that all of the individuals who have a credible claim of torture or physical abuse and members of their immediate family would be given, among other things, free tuition at the City Colleges of Chicago, specialized counseling services, job placement in programs offered by the City, and access to a variety of health-services programs. Id. at 1-2.

         In addition to the Resolution, the City Council also passed the Ordinance, which put teeth into the City's apology. CHICAGO, III., REPARATIONS FOR BURGE TORTURE VICTIMS ORDINANCE SO 2015-2687 (2015). Specifically, the Ordinance established a $5.5 million fund in which "[e]ach individual with a credible claim" may receive "up to $100, 000 [in financial reparations] minus the amount of [any other] prior compensation" the victim has received. Id. § 3(a). The "[proportionate share" is "determined by dividing the total amount in the Fund by the total number of eligible claims." Id. The Ordinance states that "any Burge victim is eligible for financial reparations, " but also sets forth a series of criteria to be considered when "determining whether a claim is a credible claim." Id. § 3(b). "Burge victim" is defined as "any individual with a credible claim of torture or physical abuse by Jon Burge or one of the officers under his command at Area 2 or Area 3 Police Headquarters between May 1, 1972 and November 30, 1991." Id. § 2. A "credible claim" is defined as a "claim of torture or physical abuse by Jon Burge or one of the officers under his command at Area 2 or Area 3 Police Headquarters between May 1, 1972 and November 30, 1991." Id. The Ordinance also sets forth a multilevel process of review by attorneys for the Chicago Torture Justice Memorials organization (CTJM), the City, and a designated and independent third party for determining which individuals are entitled to financial reparations. Id. § 3(d)-(f). With this history and legislative framework in mind, the Court now turns to Plaintiff's complaint.

         III. Plaintiff's Complaint

         Plaintiff alleges that on May 10, 1993, he was "remove[d] from [the] Cook County Jail by Chicago police detectives and taken to Area #2, " in order to be questioned "for the murder of Darren Payton and also to be a participant in a line-up." (R. 6, Compl. ¶ 6.) Plaintiff alleges that during the interrogation "he was beaten by Detectives McDermott and Boylan"-detectives who were under Burge's supervision. ( Id. ) As a result of the beating, Plaintiff alleges that he not only sustained injuries to his eye and ribs, but he also "made a coerced confession." ( Id. )[2]

         Based upon these events, on June 16, 2015, Plaintiff applied for reparations under the Ordinance. ( Id. ¶ 7.) Plaintiff filled out a claim form and sent the accompanying documents supporting his claim to Professor Daniel T. Coyne at Chicago-Kent College of Law.[3] ( Id. ) Shortly thereafter, Coyne informed Plaintiff that he had reviewed Plaintiff's claim form and transcripts, and had determined that "they provide the basic information to open an inquiry into Plaintiff's] claim to see if Plaintiff is eligible for reparations under" the Ordinance. ( Id. ¶ 8.) However, Plaintiff's claim was ...

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