Chicago's Dirty War of Torture

The Ciruit Court Judges



The Peole's Law Office estimated 41 of 61 judges assigned to felony court are former assistant state's attorneys, including 20 with direct involvement in torture cases.

Arthur Ciesek, Circuit Court Judge

Sentenced LeRoy Orange to death penalty for a crime he did not commit after testifying he was tortured into giving a false confession.

John Jay Mannion, Circuit Court Judge.

In 1987 denied motion to suppress confession after evidence of torture of Shadeed Mumin. Former CPD officer in Area Two while torture took place. Also denied motions to suppress confessions based on torture of Stanley Howard.

Daniel Locallo, Circuit Court Judge

Ignored claims of torture by LeRoy Orange who was sentenced to death. Locallo celebrated in "Courtroom 302" by Steve Bogira.

John Crowley, Circuit Court Judge

Would not allow defense attorneys to use evidence of alleged beatings and torture of Andrew Wilson prior to his confession, Crowley was later removed from Kidd/Orange case

About three weeks after Kidd and Orange's arrest, defense attorney Washington filed a motion to have Judge John Crowley recused from the case. It was Crowley who'd heard Andrew Wilson's claim of electric shock and bagging but refused to suppress his confession, and Washington said he intended to call Wilson as a witness. The filing of the recusal motion was reported by both the Sun-Times and the Tribune on February 9, 1984. Tribune reporter Andy Knott quoted Washington saying, "The black box got them." Washington told Knott that the shock device was used to attack the genitals of suspects and that its use was increasing.

_____Burkos, Circuit Court Judge

Judge Berkos refused to allow defense attorneys to mention torture in Madison Hobley's trial. On appeal, the Illinois Supreme Court accepted the denials of brutality by detectives Dwyer, Lotito, and McWeeney as fact. The high-court judges went on to rule that Judge Berkos had made no mistake in refusing to allow Hobley's attorneys to introduce the Stanley Howard allegations, arguing that the case against the detective had occurred three years prior to Hobley's arrest and that this time period made it too remote to be relevant.

John Morrisey, Circuit Court Judge

Darrell Cannon was convicted of murder in 1984 and won a new trial on appeal. After that, the case landed on Judge Morrissey's docket. In 1994, before the second trial began, Morrissey declined to schedule a hearing on whether Cannon's alleged confession was voluntary. In 1997 the Illinois Appellate Court rejected Morrissey's reasoning in no uncertain terms, forcing the judge to schedule a hearing on the charges of torture Cannon made against the police. Morrissey also refused to allow the defense to establish that Patterson could make only collect calls during the time that he was allegedly threatening Hall. (Conroy)

At a Christmas party with the two assistant state's attorneys present, Morrisey indicated that even if the state confessed that there was an error in the DNA, he would not release the prisoner; instead, he'd call Devine to appear personally and conduct a full hearing. "If you think I am going to have [defense attorney Dick] Cunningham and those idiots from the People's Law Office come in here and say, 'Release my prisoner,' uh-uh, it is not going to work until we have a full hearing."

Thomas Maloney, Circuit Court Judge

Maloney dismissed the idea he had been tortured, saying that he had seen cattle prods on his own farm and that he did not believe they could fit into a car's glove compartment. He sentenced Cannon to life in prison for a murder he did not commit. Maloney was later sent to prison for 15 years for taking bribes to fix murder cases.

Nicholas Ford, Circuit Court Judge. Also Known as "Quick Nick."

Keith Walker filed a petition for Post Conviction relief which on the docket of Judge Ford, who on April 20, 2004, summarily dismissed it.

Although Illinois law requires that the court should specify "the findings of fact and conclusions of law it made in reaching its decision," the certified report of disposition consisted of the name of the judge, the date of the ruling, and four words: "post conviction petition dismissed." The judge saw no problem with Walker's confession, which had been handwritten by a prosecutor and signed by Walker. That prosecutor had testified at a pretrial hearing in Walker's case and had given his name under oath as "Nick Ford."

Once Walker's PC petition had been dismissed, Steven Becker of the Illinois appellate defender's office took on his case. Becker filed his first brief in November 2005, arguing that Walker's plea had met the legal standard necessary to reopen the case. The state responded in January, and Becker replied on February 10. On February 24, however, Becker changed course, filing a brief that attacked not the judge's decision but the judge himself. "According to Judge Ford's biography," Becker wrote, referring to Sullivan's Judicial Profiles and A Directory of State Judges in Chicago, "it appears almost certain that the ASA 'Nick Ford' who testified against Walker at his suppression hearing in 1994 is the same Judge Nicholas R. Ford who denied Walker's post-conviction petition in 2004." Becker said Judge Ford should have been disqualified. The state, quite uncharacteristically, had nothing to say in reply. On May 30, a three-judge appellate court panel headed by Judge Margaret Stanton McBride directed Judge Ford "to determine whether he is the same Nicholas Ford who testified at defendant's suppression hearing. If he answers that question in the affirmative, he should recuse himself and the matter should be reassigned."

Given the seriousness of Ford's gaffe--in a case involving a man serving natural life who claimed to have been tortured with electric shock--the language of McBride's order seems extraordinarily mild. "There is no indication that Judge Ford was aware of this conflict or that he was motivated or biased in his decision," McBride wrote.

Ford was a former prosecutor who used questionable tactics in the 1995 murder trial of Christopher Henyerd whose conviction was reversed due to Ford's misconduct.

Lon Schulz, Circuit Court Judge. For 16 years Assistant States Attorney.

Het not only dismissed the torture victim Keith Walker post conviction petition as frivolous and patently without merit but also denied his request for appointment of counsel. It was a ruling that, according to attorney Steven Becker, Shultz had no legal authority to make. The appellate court decision that sent the case back to the lower court specifically referred to Illinois statutes dealing with "second stage" postconviction petitions. Once a PC petition has reached second stage--and McBride indicated that Walker's had--a circuit court judge cannot summarily dismiss it. If the defendant is indigent and has requested counsel, the judge has no choice but to appoint one.

Howard M. Miller, Circuit Court Judge

Presided over the trial of James Cody

Robert Sklodowski, Circuit Court Judge

Presided over Leonard Hinton's trial. Also presided in trial of James Lewis.

John J. Crowley, Circuit Court Judge

Presided in Jackie Wilson case.

Roger Kiley, Circuit Court Judge

Presided in trial of Melvin Jones

Paul Biebel, Circuit Court Judge

Judge in the Andrew Wilson case. Dismissed claims of torture

Vincent Bentivenga, Circuit Court Judge

Presided ian trial of Ronald Kitchen