A special state’s attorney will prosecute a batch of police torture cases associated with former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge, Cook County Circuit Judge Paul Biebel Jr. ruled Tuesday.
A special state’s attorney will prosecute a batch of police torture cases associated with former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge, Cook County Circuit Judge Paul Biebel Jr. ruled Tuesday. Biebel named Stuart A. Nudelman, a former Cook County judge and assistant public defender, to the post in response to a request from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office. Madigan wanted the judge to give some of the cases to the Cook County state’s attorney’s office to relieve budget concerns. "In the exercise of its discretion and realizing the gravity of the matters presented, this court is providing a remedy which none of the parties have requested," Biebel wrote in his ruling. Nudelman would have the authority to hire other attorneys and a staff. Cook County will fund the new office, officials said. Nudelman did not immediately return messages left at his office Tuesday by The Associated Press. "I think we’re all surprised," Cook County public defender Harold Winston said after the hearing. "We never anticipated this decision by Judge Biebel." Biebel’s ruling was a good solution, said Celeste Stack, a special litigation supervisor with the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. "This way there’s no issue of conflict of interest," Stack said. "And hopefully a good resolution." Burge, 60, has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of lying under oath about the torture of African-American suspects by his police unit during the 1970s and 80s. At least 20 men who remain in prison say they are innocent but confessed to crimes under coercion by Burge’s unit. Biebel gave Madigan responsibility for their cases in 2003 after ruling that then-State’s Attorney Dick Devine and his assistants had a conflict of interest because his law firm had represented Burge. Madigan’s office has resolved eight of the men’s cases and won the release of three from prison. Devine’s former chief deputy, Anita Alvarez, was elected to replace him last year. Madigan’s office had argued that with Alvarez in charge, the office is no longer constrained by a conflict of interest. Lawyers for Alvarez’s office had said it would take the cases back if Biebel directed them to. But Winston, who represents one of Burge’s alleged victims, said Alvarez is tainted because she worked under Devine. At the hearing, Madigan’s deputy chief of staff Cara Smith said the office will now focus on its remaining seven Burge cases. ______ Copyright 2009 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.