Update on the Bill for Pinstripe Patronage: $82.5 Million

(Revised and updated on July 12, 2012)

For more than 40 years, the City of Chicago has paid top dollar to private lawyers to represent the City and its police officers in the most notorious civil rights cases of assassination, torture, brutality, and wrongful arrest and convictions by Chicago police. This practice began in the early 1970s with the payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend the squad of officers who assassinated Black Panther leaders Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, and continued in the late 1980s and early 1990’s with the expenditure of more than a million dollars to defend the City and Jon Burge in several police torture cases, including the seminal case brought by Andrew Wilson. However this “pinstripe patronage,” a term that was coined by the late Judge R. Eugene Pincham, pales in comparison to what the City has paid to outside lawyers to represent their “bad guys” since August of 2003.

In a study of payment records in police cases since August of 2003 that were obtained from the City pursuant to Freedom of Information Act requests, the People’s Law Office has calculated that the City has paid $82,532,589 in fees and costs to 24 private law firms in 659 police misconduct cases during that time period. (Table 1). In 433 of these cases, the lawyers were paid an hourly rate that ranged from $150 to $290 per hour, while in the remaining 226 cases, the lawyers were paid a flat rate of $30,000 per case, with a $15,000 bonus if they won at trial.1 $18,986,393, or approximately 23% of the total, has been paid to lawyers to defend the City, Jon Burge, numerous of his confederates, former CPD Superintendents Leroy Martin and Terry Hillard, and now, former Mayor Richard M. Daley, in a series of cases brought by exonerated victims of police torture and wrongful convictions. (Table 2). In the Burge torture cases alone, the City has paid $15,354,502 in outside counsel fees since the City began to finance the defense of Burge and his men in 1988, and has paid $13,097,676 to defend police torture in these cases since 2003. (Tables 2 and 14).

Remarkably, the leading benefactor of this “pinstripe patronage” is attorney Andrew Hale and his law firm Andrew Hale and Associates. Hale started his career as a City funded lawyer while at the City connected law firm of Rock, Fusco when he became the lead lawyer in two related Area 2 wrongful conviction cases. Soon thereafter, he left Rock, Fusco and, with his lucrative City business in tow, founded Hale and Associates. Since 2004, Rock, Fusco and Hale and Associates have raked in $20,554,498 in fees and costs in 110 cases that the City has sent their way, with $5,268,128 collected in Area 2 torture and wrongful conviction cases. (Tables 1, 2 and 3).

Successive Corporation Counsel Mara Georges and Steve Patton have continued to reward Hale and Associates with new cases despite recurring citations of misconduct by Federal District Court Judges. For example, in Walden v. City of Chicago, Hale and his right hand man, Avi Kamionski, engaged in a pattern of trial conduct that District Judge Ruben Castillo subsequently found to be “unethical” and so prejudicial that he overturned the jury verdict in favor of the City and granted Walden a new trial.2 In Peterson v. City of Chicago, Judge Milton Shadur found Hale lawyers to have made “downright disingenuous” and “totally deceptive” arguments, while in Leon v. City of Chicago, the late Judge William Hibbler found their “attempt to mislead the Court, especially in light of the plethora of errors compiled above is offensive.” In Jimenez v. City of Chicago, Judge Matthew Kennelly found that Hale and Kamionski had practiced “deliberate,” “purposeful,” and “invidious” “racially based” discrimination when they struck an African American from the jury during voir dire. Additionally, Judge Kennelly found that Hale had offered a “made up” reason which was “not at all credible” in a “pre-textual” attempt to justify their “racially motivated” actions. Nonetheless, Corporation Counsel Patton recently awarded Hale and Associates, who already represented numerous Burge confederates, the dubious distinction of representing Jon Burge in three pending torture cases.

The second leading benefactor of the City’s pinstripe patronage is the Detroit based law firm of Dykema Gossett. Dykema replaced Hinshaw Culbertson as the City’s lawyers in the Burge torture cases in 2004 after Hinshaw produced in discovery some embarrassing Corporation Counsel emails that discussed the possibility of the City suing, rather than defending, Burge. The FOIA production shows that Dykema has collected $13,679,073 in fees and costs since that time. (Table 4). Dykema, which has been retained in nearly 200 police cases, most frequently represents the City itself, and recently has been assigned to represent former Mayor Richard M. Daley in the Tillman police torture case. Dykema has collected $5,514,365 in Area 2 torture and wrongful conviction cases. (Tables 2 and 4).

The third leading firm is Shefsky and Froelich, Ltd. Shefsky, which, for a time, featured former State’s Attorney Richard A. Devine and former Police Board member Brian Crowe as partners, collected $8,882,335 in 16 cases, including the defense of the detectives who obtained the false “confessions” from the 7 and 8 year old boys in the notorious Ryan Harris case. (Table 15).

Fourth on the list are James Sotos and several of his associates. Sotos, like Hale, started out in an established law firm – – – Hervas, Condon and Bersani – – – then used his City business to found his own law firm of Sotos and Associates. Together these firms have collected $8,607,256 in fees and costs, $2,964,357 of which has come from their representation of Jon Burge. (Tables 2 and 5). Ironically, Sotos was the lead City paid Burge lawyer when, in November of 2003, Burge signed the sworn false interrogatory answers denying torture that later lead to his indictment and conviction for perjury and obstruction of justice.

Fifth on the list, at $6,819,090, is Freeborn Peters, another firm that represented Burge in several torture cases, making $2,356,069 on those cases. (Tables 2 and 6). Two predominately African American firms are sixth and seventh on the list – – – Pugh, Johnson and Jones at $6,288,348 (Table 7) and Greene and Letts, which made $1,061,646 representing former CPD Superintendent Leroy Martin and former Office of Professional Standards Director Gayle Shines in the torture cases, at $4,423,959. (Tables 2 and 8).

Eighth on the list is Querry & Harrow Ltd. (102 cases and $2,938,535 in fees and costs) (Table 16), followed by Johnson and Bell (58 cases and $2,623,495 in fees and costs) (Table 17), and Jones Day (8 cases and $2,400,018 in fees and costs)3 (Id.).

The other firms that have collected more than $400,000 in police cases are Daley, Mohan, Groble, which collected $973,906, $321,514 of which was in Area 2 cases, (Tables 2 and 9), Hinshaw, Culbertson, which collected $718,839, with all but $774 coming from Area 2 police torture cases, (Tables 2 and 10), attorneys Kralovec, Bueke and Gamboney, who together collected $591,232 for representing Burge in three pending torture cases, (Tables 2 and 11), Ancel Glink, which collected $826,824 in 8 police cases, (Table 12), Smith Amundsen, which collected $610,326 in 7 cases, (Table 18), Mayer Brown, which collected $443,334 in 6 cases, (Id.), Clausen, Miller, which collected $439,034 including $71,094 in 2 Area 2 torture cases, (Id.), and Leinenweber, Baroni and Daffada, which collected $426,898, $116,200 of which was in a Burge wrongful conviction case. (Tables 2 and 13).

Other firms who collected fees are Michael Coffield and Associates ($185,975,) (Table 19), The Law Office of Joseph V. Roddy ($68,155) (Id.), Cotsirillos, Tighe & Streiker, Ltd. ($54,289) (Id.), The Law Offices of Mark Rotert ($16,888) (Id.), and the Law Offices of Kenneth L Cunniff, Ltd. ($14,528 (Id.)

Corporation Counsel Patton, to his credit, has moved to limit this “pinstripe patronage” by discontinuing the “no settlement policy” and cutting back on the number of outside counsel retained, but the most questionable recipient, Hale and Associates, continues to run wild in the police torture cases. Without a doubt, the “pinstripe patronage” still showered on outside counsel by the City could be put to much better use properly compensating victims of police misconduct and abuse.

[1] These cases were typically smaller police misconduct cases that were part of Corporation Counsel Mara Georges 2009 “no settlement” policy. The data shows that from 2009 to 2112 eight law firms participated in this lawyer enrichment program, collecting $8,846,742 in the 226 cases – – – money that otherwise could have gone to compensating the victims in these cases. (See Table 20).

[2] Pursuant to this decision, Walden filed a motion for sanctions against the City and Hale and Associates, seeking $330,000 in attorneys’ fees against them, plus issue related sanctions.  The City then removed Hale and Associates, replacing them with in-house counsel, Hale and Associates hired two private law firms to represent them in the sanctions proceedings, and the City subsequently settled the sanctions motion and the underlying case. See, Chicago Tribune, March 8, 2012, Judge cites unethical conduct in police abuse case, orders new trial; Chicago Tribune, June 12, 2012, (website only), Settlement between Chicago, pardoned man is reached in 1952 rape conviction.

[3] Jones Day, which previously represented the City in the Burge Police Board firing case, collected  $114,812 for dealing with the Are 2 Special Prosecutor on the City’s behalf.

The referenced Tables 1-20 appear below.

Table 1 Fees and Costs Paid by City of Chicago to Outside Counsel in Police Cases

Table 2 Fees and Costs Paid by the City in Area 2 and Area 3 Cases

Table 3 Fees and Costs paid to Hale and Associates and Hale, Rock Fusco

Table 4 Dykema Fees and Costs

Table 5 James Sotos Fees and Costs

Table 6 Freeborn & Peters Fees and Costs

Table 7 Pugh Johnson Jones fees from FOIA

Table 8 Greene and Letts Fees and Costs

Table 9 Daley Mohan Groble fees and Costs

Table 10 Hinshaw Culbertson fees and costs

Table 11 Kralovec Gamboney and Bueke Fees and Costs

Table 12 Ancel Glink Fees and Costs

Table 13 Leinenweber Baroni Daffada Fees and Costs

Table 14 Summary of Fees and Costs by City and County in Police Torture Civil Rights Cases

Table 15 Shefsky Froelich Fees and Costs

Table 16 Querrey and Harrow Fees and Costs

Table 17 Johnson & Bell and Jones Day Fees and Costs

Table 18 Smith Amundsen, Mayer Brown and Clausen Miller Fees and Costs

Table 19 Law Office of Mark L Rotert, Law Offices of Joseph Roddy and Law Offices of Kenneth Cunniff Fees and Costs

Table 20 Flat Fee Cases