Daley served subpoena in police torture case

November 3, 2011 3:20:52 PM PDT
Former Mayor Richard Daley was subpoenaed Thursday to answer questions about an alleged victim of police torture.

Daley will remain one of 16 defendants in a civil lawsuit filed by a man who says Chicago police tortured him into making a false confession for a 1986 murder.

The former mayor next month faces up to seven hours of intense questioning, under oath and on video tape. And legal experts say taking the Fifth may not be his best option.

Forty-five-year-old Michael Tillman is the man behind the lawsuit. He talked with ABC 7 about what he hopes to hear from the former mayor.

Tillman was released from prison last year after spending nearly 24 years behind bars for a murder in which he was later exonerated. He says he is still trying to catch up.

"I had a little girl 8 years old teaching me how to use a phone, show me how to use a microwave. Do you know what that's like?" Tillman said.

Tillman says he initially confessed to the murder after being tortured by officers under Commander Jon Burge.

"I lost my sister who passed away while I was incarcerated for something I didn't do. I lost my kids, but they came back," said Tillman.

Tillman is now suing Burge, the officers who allegedly tortured him and former mayor Richard Daley, who was Cook County state's attorney at the time of his conviction.

Thursday, Tillman's lawyer issued a subpoena, ordering Daley to appear for a December deposition.

"The Daleys have been above the law since Richard J. Daley became mayor," said G. Flint Taylor, Tillman's attorney. "That's half a century ago. Now maybe a Daley can be held accountable for something outrageous."

The suit alleges that Daley, as state's attorney, had knowledge of the alleged torture -- in Tillman's case and dozens of others -- and when he became mayor he allowed innocent defendants to languish in prison.

"He talked like he was for us. He wasn't for us. He was for himself and his people," Tillman said.

Daley has been sued before, only to be dropped from the suits later. This is the first time a judge has ruled he can be deposed as a defendant.

"In a civil deposition, it doesn't have to be admissible evidence. It just has to be stuff that might lead to admissible evidence. So there's a much broader array of material that comes in," said University of Chicago Law Professor Douglas Baird.

"He's either going to answer the questions at the deposition, or he's going to take the Fifth Amendment, and that's going to look terrible if he does that," said Leonard L. Cavise, a DePaul University law professor. "He's probably going to say 'I didn't know about it. When I heard a rumor about it I told the appropriate people don't you dare do it.' "

Daley has prosecutorial immunity for anything that occurred while he was state's attorney, but a judge ruled he can be held liable in this civil suit for any alleged actions as mayor. Daley is being defended by the city's legal department, which Thursday declined comment on the subpoena.

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