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November 16, 2010

Big dispute over guideline calculation for convicted former Chicago police commander

This new article from the Chicago Tribune, which is headlined "Prosecutors: Burge should spend decades in prison; Lawyers say they'll seek probation for perjury, obstruction convictions," spotlights a notable guideline calculation dispute in a notable federal criminal case.  Here are the details:

Federal prosecutors will seek at least 24 years in prison for disgraced former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge, saying his torture of criminal suspects decades ago shook public confidence in law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

Such a stiff sentence for Burge's conviction on perjury and obstruction of justice is sure to stir debate at his sentencing Jan. 20.  The probation office has recommended that Burge face 15 to 21 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines, while his lawyers have said they would seek probation, noting that when Burge was convicted when he was 62 and had prostate cancer.

In court papers filed last week, prosecutors disputed the probation office's findings, saying Burge deserved a sentence of about 24 to 30 years under the sentencing guidelines.  The government cited the "stain" that Burge's torture of suspects left on the department and the more than $30 million the city has spent on lawyers and payouts to Burge's victims as a result of many lawsuits....

A jury convicted Burge in June on all three counts of obstruction of justice and perjury for lying in a 2003 civil lawsuit when he denied he knew of or took part in torture under his command at the Calumet Area headquarters on the city's South Side.

For years it looked as if Burge would escape criminal charges altogether.  He was fired from the Police Department in 1993 for torturing a cop killer, but a four-year investigation by special Cook County prosecutors concluded in 2006 that the statute of limitations on the claims of abuse had long passed.  It wasn't until 2008 that federal prosecutors figured out a way to indict him — not for the tortures themselves, but for lying about them.

November 16, 2010 at 07:55 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Sorry but there is no way that a perjuring cop should be able to get probation. Even the probation office's recommendation seem extremely light, even just in view of the conduct for which he was convicted.

Posted by: Soronel Haetir | Nov 16, 2010 10:13:18 AM


Andrew Wilson was (one?) of the people who sued Burge and the City of Chicago. I don't think that the City and the Illinois / federal court system should make a "sacrificial lamb" out of Burge to downplay their systematic mistakes, but I do think that Burge deserves the highest and most penalties that he can get. His actions have spawned more ethical issues (Did you ever see the CBS report on the Alton Logan wrongful conviction?), Evidence questions (my evidence book cited the Andrew Wilson city of Chicago case as a real-life application of various Fed. rules of evidence), and other societal problems than many other people's crimes.
From a societal impact perspective, I think Burge deserves a long time.

Posted by: Law Student | Nov 16, 2010 12:23:01 PM

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