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Lawyers for ex-inmate seek to have former Mayor Daley deposed

Published: Friday, Feb. 1, 2013 9:42 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — CHICAGO — Lawyers for a man who spent more than two decades in prison after Chicago police allegedly used torture to extract a false confession are asking a federal judge to force former Mayor Richard Daley to answer questions under oath in a lawsuit filed against disgraced former Cmdr. Jon Burge and the city.

Attorneys for other alleged Burge victims have previously sought to make Daley sit down for a deposition — and judges have twice ordered the former mayor to answer questions. But both times, the city settled the lawsuit before Daley had to testify about what he knew about the scandal.

In the motion filed Thursday, attorneys for Ronald Kitchen alerted U.S. District Judge John Tharp that efforts to schedule a deposition with Daley have “reached an impasse.”

According to the filing, Kitchen’s attorneys went so far as to outline for city attorneys the topics they wanted to question Daley about. They also offered assurances that they would not ask Daley about pending involuntary manslaughter charges against the former mayor’s nephew, Richard Vanecko, in connection with a controversial 2004 death.

“Despite ... reasonable attempts to accommodate Mr. Daley, the City categorically refuses to make him available,” Kitchen’s attorneys wrote.

The city’s Law Department did not respond to the allegations in the filing. Daley could not be reached for comment.

Kitchen was exonerated in 2009 after spending 21 years in prison — 13 of them on death row — for the 1988 slaying of two women and three children inside their South Side bungalow.

Daley is no longer a defendant in the lawsuit brought by Kitchen, but his attorneys are still seeking to depose him as a witness, according to the filing.

Daley was the Cook County state’s attorney when the office decided to seek the death penalty for Kitchen. Kitchen’s lawyers also contend Daley could have knowledge about alleged systemic abuses against African-American suspects by Burge and detectives who worked under him.

In addition, as mayor, Daley would have had knowledge of any conspiracy to cover up the Burge scandal, prolonging Kitchen’s wrongful incarceration, Kitchen’s lawyers argued.

“He should not be permitted to indefinitely evade questioning regarding these matters simply because he was once — but is no more — the Mayor of Chicago,” Kitchen’s lawyers wrote.

Burge was fired from the department in 1993 and convicted in 2010 in federal court of perjury for denying under oath that he was aware of the abuse and torture of criminal suspects. He is serving 4 ½ years in prison. A federal judge said Burge’s torture of suspects irreparably damaged the justice system.

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