Chicago's Dirty War of Torture

The State's Attorneys


Edward V. Hanrahan 1968- 1972. States Attorney who began "dirty war" with assassination of Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.

Burge began work during Hanrahan's administration. With Richard J. Daley, Hanrahan iniatiated a "war on gangs"that implicityly justified torture and "any means necessary" to win the war.

Bernard Carey 1972- 1980

Cook County Circuit Judge Bernard Carey, whose career has included stints as state's attorney and a County Board member but also numerous unsuccessful campaigns, says he will resign at the end of the year. Carey, 59, said he wanted to spend more time with his family. Carey, a Republican, was state's attorney from 1972 to 1980, when he lost to Richard Daley. He ran for attorney general in 1986, but was defeated by Neil Hartigan.

Richard M. Daley 1980- 1989 . Was States Attorney while at least 64 cases of torture were committed. Prosecuted no one. Had direct knowledge of torture since 1975 and could have stopped it with a word.

In May 1983, Daley publicly commends Burge and his men for their work on the Wilson case, which torture was confirmed. Daley's office had been told on numerous occasions that Burge and some of the detectives under his command were torturing suspects. It had been put on notice by the Wilson case, by defense attorney Earl Washington's public claims about the use of the "black box," by repeated testimony linking a small number of detectives with unusual methods (a pattern likely to have revealed itself to assistant state's attorneys who handled or supervised numerous cases), by Judge Gembala (who had ordered the inquiry in response to Patterson's outcry), and by the Illinois Supreme Court's assessment of the evidence in Wilson. None of this prompted an investigation.


See Daley as Mayor.


Cecil Partree. 1989 - 1990.

Cecil Partee, former Democratic state senator and Cook County state's attorney, died Tuesday of lung cancer in Northwestern Memorial Hospital, hospital spokeswoman Marlene Alpern said. He was 73. Partee was a stalwart of the Cook County Democratic party, loyal to Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and then to his son, the current mayor, Richard M. Daley. Partee died at 7:40 a.m. at the hospital, where he had been a few days as part of the hospice program. He served two terms as president of the state Senate, leading the legislative efforts for the first Mayor Daley.

Jack O'Malley 1990-1996. Prosecuted no one despite widespread admission of torture. Burge was fired while he was States Attorney.

Former CPD officer, as States Attorney prosecuted no one despite by March 1994 even the city’s own lawyers had admitted that torture had taken place at Area Two. Served on the Illinois Appellate Court. 1990 to December 1996 had far more information than Daley that a torture ring had been in operation at Areas Two and Three, and on his watch torture continued at Area Three. Prosecuted no one. Served on the Illinois Appellate Court. Succeeded Cecil Partee who served only a year before being voted out of office. During both the Partee and the O'Malley administrations, the state was thoroughly informed, once again, about the pattern of accusations of torture.

O'Malley was on notice from the very start of his administration that torture probably had occurred at Area Two, and further notice was served as the years passed. O'Malley had access to the PLO's original list of 27 victims that was filed in federal court in 1989, to the anonymous letters in police department envelopes (also on file in federal court), and to the Sanders and Goldston reports, submitted in November 1990. Later he had access to the testimony before the Police Board, including Reidy's interpretation of Larry Hyman's role. O'Malley knew what the Police Board had concluded--it was displayed prominently on the front pages of the Tribune and Sun-Times. He had access to the corporation counsel's admission that torture had occurred, and to Judge Gettleman's July 1996 decision in Andrew Wilson's civil suit that the city should pay more than $1 million

The Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct require prosecutors to seek justice, not convictions. O'Malley would seem to have been obligated to investigate the policemen, even in cases in which the statute of limitations for action against them had expired, so that justice could come to torture victims. As a dozen of the men alleging torture were on death row, there was a compelling reason to investigate--someone could unjustly be put to death. The anonymous letter writer from Area Two had listed officers who went along with Burge's program and those who didn't, information that could have made a fine starting point for an investigation. But O'Malley did nothing. (Conroy)


Richard A. " Dick" Devine 1996-2008. Failed to prosecute Burge or any of the torturers though the torture was admitted by courts. After resigning as First Assistant States Attoreny, defends Burge as private attorney before election as States Attorney.

First assistant state’s attorney under Daley when Wilson and more than 20 others were tortured. Went into private practice in 1983, and in 1989 briefly represented Burge in Wilson’s civil suit. Also profited from his firm’s million-dollar defense of Burge and fellow detectives, paid for by the city. After taking the office of state’s attorney in December 1996 he fought victims’ appeals relentlessly and moved to quash the petition to appoint a special prosecutor despite clear conflict of interest. Before clearing death row in 2003, Governor George Ryan pardoned four Burge victims, saying not only that they had been tortured but that they were innocent, a clear rebuke to Devine and other prosecutors. Devine denounced the pardoned men as “evil.

Devine was challenged by attorneys as having a conflict of interest in torture cases, sinc ehe represrnted Jon Burge as a private attorney. Devine didn't contest the conflict of interest charge. He argued instead that the issue was moot because there were no crimes to prosecute. Devine has never admitted torture took place, but in his brief he argued that even if it did, the statute of limitations prevented prosecution. "It would be unethical for a prosecutor to undertake investigations on time-barred crimes merely because...the investigations might clarify the historical record or satisfy public demand," Devine argued. He said that Burge had rights too: former clients of state's attorneys should not be "more vulnerable to ill-founded requests for special prosecutors than are other citizens....When an attorney becomes a State's Attorney, his clients do not thereby suffer unequal protection of the law and become more vulnerable than other citizens to such unfair investigations. However, on April 24, 2002 Chief Cook County Criminal Court Judge Paul Biebel found that SA Devine has a conflict arising from his prior representation of Burge, and appoints a Special Prosecutor to investigate Area 2 torture.

Anita Alvarez 2008- Prosecuted no one. Claims statute of limitations precludes prosection.


Illinois Attorneys General who prosecuted no one at any time

  William J. Scott 1969-1980
  Tyrone C. Fahner 1980-1983
  Neil F. Hartigan 1983-1991
  Roland W. Burris 1991-1995
  Jim Ryan 1995-2003
  Lisa Madigan 2003–present