Witness talks about 'black box' in Burge trial

July 21, 2010 12:05:12 PM PDT
A witness testified Tuesday about a "black box" that was allegedly used to torture Chicago suspects in the 1970s and 1980s.

The testimony was part of the trial of former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge.

Burge is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice.

An attorney who once represented a man who says he was tortured by Burge told the jury that she once talked with the former police commander about the device her client said was used.

Congressman Danny Davis (D-Chicago) is drafting legislation that would remove the time limits to charge someone with torture. There can be no doubt that that drafting is related to the trial at the Dirksen Federal Building as the state is building the case against Burge that he lied about torture.

"Torture in the state of Illinois as well as the U.S., the continental U.S., ought to be made specifically illegal," said Stephen Eisenman of the Illinois Coalition Against Torture.

This morning activists with that organization made their plea at the Dirksen Federal Building - the same location where former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge is on trial for allegedly lying about torturing suspects.

In day three of the trial, jurors heard from now-Cook County Administrative Law Judge Casandra Watson.

In 1982, she represented Melvin Jones. Watson testified that Jones told her Burge shocked him with a black box.

Watson says she regularly saw Burge in the 1980s and commented on the black box.

Watson testified: "I would say, 'Are you bringing out the black box today? Where's the black box today?'... Once, he said to me the black box leaves no marks."

Under cross-examination Watson was asked, "You vividly remember that comment from 28 years ago?"

Watson responded, "Yes, I do."

Prosecutors also called attorneys who represented Burge in a civil case brought by Madison Hobley.

Hobley alleged torture by Burge and was exonerated.

Hobley's attorneys submitted written questions to Burge that he was to answer under oath.

One of the questions asked if Burge knew anything about torture techniques used to intimidate suspects at Area Two.

Burge's sworn response in the document read in court: "I have not observed nor have any knowledge of abuse at Area Two."

Jon Loevy represented Madison Hobley and others who allege Burge tortured them.

"Although the statute of limitations has run on the torture and abuses, he is now being prosecuted for lying about them," said Loevy.

Jurors also heard testimony from a former public defender who represented Andrew Wilson.

Jurors were shown a picture of Wilson where he appeared to have some bruising and a bandage over his face. Under cross-examination, it came out that the timing of when that picture was taken is unclear.

Due to a scheduling conflict with the judge, the trial is off the rest of the week and will resume on Monday.


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