Crooked City

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Northwestern Busted Again...

One of Northwestern University's latest crusades was a lawsuit against Cook County Jail, claiming there was widespread abuse there, just as the school has claimed about police and prosecutors for more than 30 years. The claims infuriated Sheriff Tom Dart, who ridiculed them when they first surfaced. 

Sun Times:

"Backed by some of Chicago’s leading civil rights attorneys and citing what they said were sanctioned beatings by guards and gang members, a group of inmates in 2013 filed a class-action lawsuit against both the sheriff and the county, alleging they perpetuated a “violent and lawless” culture behind bars."

But unlike previous years, judges are no longer buying such claims without scrutinizing the evidence. And when they do, something important happens. They reject the claims out of hand. 

"But U.S. District Judge Virginia Kendall late Tuesday dealt a severe blow to the inmates’ case, refusing to impose a preliminary injunction that would require the county to draw up new plans to tackle jail violence.

Though Kendall allowed the inmates’ lawsuit to proceed, her 50-page ruling made it clear she believes that a federal monitor who has been overseeing conditions at the jail since 2010 is doing enough.

Evidence presented at a nine-day hearing earlier this year showed that county authorities have “worked diligently to eliminate violence in the jail and have opened the facility to frequent, regular review from four monitors who report the conditions and the incidents of potential violence directly to the court,” Kendall wrote."

But this isn’t what is most compelling about Judge Kendall’s ruling. Here is what she had to say about the Northwestern claims.

"And the judge was highly critical of the case put on by lawyers for the five inmates who brought the suit. Though they had alleged the “horrific treatment of detainees” — including unprovoked attacks by guards, guards beating inmates in elevators to avoid being captured on camera, and guards turning a blind eye to gang beatings — Kendall wrote that “there is a significant disconnect between plaintiffs’ arguments and the facts that were presented in court.”

Evidence showed that most cases of alleged abuse were investigated, and that abuse often resulted in punishment for guards, Kendall wrote, adding that the jail has for more than a year been in “substantial compliance” with 77 rules monitored by the federal overseer, jail expert Susan McCampbell.

"Kendall also criticized the testimony of the inmates’ expert witness, Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, for what she called “significant flaws in its methodology and analysis.” Schwartz improperly relied upon accounts of abuse given by 120 inmates who were not under oath, and on the work of lawyers and law students from Northwestern’s MacArthur Justice Center, the judge wrote."

In other words, it looks like Northwestern was likely putting on another fraudulent case. 

No Chicago journalist will ever connect the dots in the evidence of corruption in the wrongful conviction movement, particularly at Northwestern University. But Judge Kendall’s statements join a vast body of evidence of bribed testimony, coerced confessions, perjury, and obstruction of justice at Northwestern. 

Kendall goes on to praised Cook County authorities in handling abuse claims:

“It is unrealistic to expect that no incidents will occur, but it is expected that when they do occur they will be handled in a constitutional manner,” Kendall wrote. “The evidence presented at hearing demonstrated that defendants have worked diligently – and with marked success in many areas – at combatting the danger that exists at the jail.”

Citing a ruling in a landmark 1981 case, she concluded, “The jail is not a pleasant place to live, but ‘the Constitution does not mandate comfortable prisons.’ ”

Kendall’s statements also reveal another important fact. When authorities like Tom Dart, the head of Cook County Jail, stand up to ludicrous claims by Northwestern and the PLO, the cases often implode. Here is an important lesson for every body that represents or supervises prosecutors and law enforcement members.