Legal Victories


United States Supreme Court Decisions

Buckley v. Fitzsimmons, 509 U.S. 259 (1993)
▸    Landmark decision establishing that prosecutors are not entitled to absolute immunity for investigative activities, and holding that they could be sued for damages in the Nicarico wrongful prosecution case.
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Soldal v. Cook County, 506 U.S. 56 (1992)
▸    9-0 decision reversing en banc and panel decisions of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a Fourth Amendment search case, holding that government participation in an illegal eviction can amount to a violation of tenants’ constitutional rights, and that the Fourth Amendment protects property as well as privacy.
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Cleavinger v. Saxner, 474 U.S. 193 (1986)
▸    Groundbreaking decision which established that members of prison disciplinary committees are only entitled to qualified, rather than absolute, immunity from lawsuits when depriving prisoners of their rights, and upholding the jury verdict for plaintiff David Saxner.
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Green v. Carlson, 446 U.S. 14 (1980)
▸    Decision holding that federal prisoners have a right to sue under the Eighth Amendment for failure to provide adequate medical treatment.
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Hampton v. Hanrahan, 446 U.S. 754 (1980)
▸    Order refusing to reverse the Seventh Circuit’s decision upholding claims of conspiracy to murder, maim, and cover-up brought by Black Panther plaintiffs against Chicago police, Cook County prosecutors and the FBI.
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Federal Court of Appeals Decisions

Vodak v. City of Chicago, 639 F.3d 738 (7th Cir. 2011)
▸    Important demonstration decision upholding the rights of peaceful demonstrators to march on City streets without being arrested, and the duty of the police to give orders to disperse prior to arrest.
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Steidl v. Fermon, 494 F.3d 623 (7th Cir. 2007)
▸    Opinion holding that former death row prisoner Randy Steidl could recover damages against police officers who concealed exculpatory evidence which led to his conviction and death sentence.
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Doe v. City of Chicago, 360 F.3d 667 (7th Cir. 2004)
▸    Ruling that the plaintiff, a victim of sexual assault by a Chicago police officer, could recover damages from the City of Chicago if a jury found that the officer was acting in the scope of his employment.
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Bracy v. Schomig, 286 F.3d 406 (7th Cir. 2002)
▸    Decision reversing the death sentence of William Bracy based on the corruption of the trial judge, Thomas Maloney.
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Burgess v. Lowery, 201 F.3d 942 (7th Cir. 2000)
▸    Opinion holding that prison guards could be sued for money damages for strip searches of prison visitors.
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Wiggins v. Martin, 150 F. 3d 671 (7th Cir 1998)
▸    Decision which rejected the attempt of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police to conceal Chicago Police torture documents.
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Wilson v. City of Chicago, 120 F.3d 681 (7th Cir. 1997)
▸    Decision which upheld judgments and attorneys fees in the amount of approximately $1,000,000 obtained against the City of Chicago and police commander Jon Burge for the torture of Andrew Wilson.
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Sledd v. Lindsay, 102 F.3d 282 (7th Cir. 1996)
▸    Ruling which upheld the right of a victim of a police shooting to sue the police officers and the City for his injuries, and reversed the District Court decision dismissing the lawsuit.
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Wilson v. City of Chicago, 6 F.3d 1233 (7th Cir. 1993)
▸    The first Chicago Police torture case decided by the 7th Circuit, reversing a verdict for police defendants who tortured Andrew Wilson, which they had obtained after two unfair trials before a biased judge.
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Daniels v. Local 597, 945 F.2d 906 and 983 F.2d 800 (7th Cir. 1993)
▸    Employment discrimination case in which the Court of Appeals upheld a jury verdict in favor of the African American plaintiff who had been discriminated against by his union.
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Abel v. Miller, 904 F.2d 394 (7th Cir. 1990)
Decision which barred federal prison officials from repeated appeals before trial in a case dealing with the rights of prisoners and attorneys at Marion federal prison.
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Cleveland Perdue v. Brutsche, 881 F.2d 427 (7th Cir. 1989)
▸    Decision establishing that federal prison officials could be held liable in money damages for violating a prisoner’s Eighth Amendment right to medical care.
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Jones v. City of Chicago, 856 F.2d 985 (7th Cir. 1988)
▸    Ruling that the City of Chicago and numerous police officers were liable for $801,000 damages verdict, plus attorneys’ fees, for false arrest and malicious prosecution case on behalf of plaintiff wrongfully arrested and detained for a month for a rape and murder he did not commit.
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Abel v. Miller, 824 F.2d 1522 (7th Cir. 1987)
▸    Decision recognizing a prisoner’s right to attorney access, and a paralegal’s right to be free from retaliation for the exercise of her First Amendment right to speak out publicly about prison conditions and to litigate to change those conditions.
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Smith v. Charles Rowe, 761 F.2d 360 (7th Cir. 1985)
▸    Ruling which upheld $100,700 verdict for jailhouse lawyer wrongfully placed in segregation in retaliation for her legal work.
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Hoffman v. City of Chicago, 723 F.2d 1263 (7th Cir. 1984)
▸    Decision upholding verdict in favor of plaintiff in strip search case.
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Abel v. Miller, 681 F.2d 821 (7th Cir. 1982)
▸    Injunction ordered against prison officials at Marion federal prison, ordering them to allow attorneys and paralegals access to their prisoner clients.
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Hampton v. Hanrahan, 600 F.2d 600 (7th Cir. 1979)
▸    Historic decision which overturned verdicts in favor of police, prosecutor and FBI defendants in the notorious police raid of Black Panther Party headquarters and  the murders of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark. This decision established several precedents with respect to civil rights conspiracy claims, government misconduct, and governmental use of informant-provocateurs, and subsequently led to the settlement of the litigation in the trial court, for a then-record $1.8 million.
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Preston v. Thompson, 589 F.2d 300 (7th Cir. 1978)
▸    Decision protecting the rights of prisoners not to be subjected to an indefinite state prison deadlock..
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Smith v. Rowe, 588 F.2d 832 (7th Cir. 1978) (unpublished)
▸    Court holds woman jailhouse lawyer’s confinement to segregation for more than 2 years unconstitutional, and orders her release from segregation.

Adams v. Carlson, 488 F.2d 619 (7th Cir. 1973)
▸    Ruling that indefinite confinement of federal prisoners in segregation violated their Fifth and Eighth Amendment rights.
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Hampton v. Hanrahan, 484 F.2d 602 (7th Cir. 1972)
▸    Opinion establishing that prosecutors who planned the raid on Black Panther Party headquarters in which Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were killed could be sued for money damages and were not entitled to absolute immunity.
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State  Supreme Court Decisions

People ex rel. Madigan v. Snyder, 208 Ill. 2d 457 (2004)
▸    Successfully defended Governor’s grant of commutation of death penalty to term of imprisonment, on behalf of PLO clients William Bracy, Cortez Brown and Renaldo Hudson.
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Azania v. State of Indiana, 775 N.E.2d 1253 (2002)
▸    Decision which reversed death penalty sentence because the jury pool system systematically excluded African Americans from serving as jurors. On remand, successfully defeated State’s renewed attempt to obtain death penalty.
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People v. Patterson, 192 Ill. 2d 93 (2000)
▸    Decision establishing that defendants who alleged that they were tortured by Chicago police officers were entitled to post conviction relief, even if there was no evidence of lasting physical injuries. In 2003, Patterson was pardoned on the basis of his innocence.
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People v. Fields, 181 Ill. 2d 41 (1998)
▸    Decision which reversed the conviction and death sentence of Nathson Fields, on the basis that the trial judge, Thomas Maloney, was corrupt. After the decision, Fields was acquitted at a retrial.
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People v. Mack, 167 Ill. 2d 525 (1995)
▸    Reversal of death penalty in post-conviction proceeding in a case which established new standards in Illinois for imposition of a death sentence. On remand Mack, represented by PLO lawyers, obtained a verdict rejecting the death penalty.
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Other Significant Decisions

Tillman v. Burge, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79320 (N.D. Ill. July 20, 2011)
▸    Court denies attempt of former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley to dismiss suit against him alleging that he participated in a conspiracy to conceal evidence of police torture, and also denies motions to dismiss of several other law enforcement defendants.
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Kitchen v. Burge, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42021 (N.D. Ill. April 19, 2011) and 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120599 (N.D. Ill. February 1, 2012)
▸    denial of motion to dismiss numerous police co-conspirators and assistant state’s attorney from Burge torture suit
Steidl v. City of Paris, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129521 (C.D. Ill. 2010)
▸    Defeated motions for summary judgment brought by the City of Paris, local police, the State’s Attorney of Edgar County,  and various high ranking Illinois State Police officials in wrongful conviction case where Plaintiff spent 17 years in prison, 12 of which were on death row.

Orange v. Burge, 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75103 (N.D. Ill. September 29, 2008)
▸    Denial of summary judgment sought by assistant state’s attorney in Burge torture case.

Patterson v. Burge, 328 F. Supp. 2d 878 (N.D. Ill. 2004); Orange v. Burge, 2005 U.S. Dist.         LEXIS 7234 (N.D. Ill.); Cannon v. Burge, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4040 (N.D. Ill.)
▸    Defeated police and City efforts to avoid having to stand trial for torturing and wrongfully convicting plaintiffs who spent decades in prison for crimes they did not commit.
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Steidl v. City of Paris, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15114 (C.D. Ill.)
▸    Defeated motions to dismiss in wrongful conviction case where plaintiff spent 17 years in prison, 12 of which were on death row, as a result of police officers and prosecutor’s manipulation and fabrication of evidence.

Vodak v. City of Chicago, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30052 (N.D. Ill. 4/17/06)
▸    Motion for class certification granted on behalf of 800 individuals falsely detained, arrested and charged at protest of U.S. war on Iraq on March 20, 2003.
▸    2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18070 (9/9/04) and 2004 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8235 (5/10/04)  successful motions granting the discovery of documents, including disciplinary files, personnel files and First Amendment investigative files from the Chicago Police Department.

Walden v. City of Chicago, 391 F. Supp. 2d 660 (N.D. Ill. 2005), and 755 F. Supp. 2d 942 (N.D. Ill. 2010)
▸    Defeated motion to dismiss and motion for summary judgment in denial of fair trial claim for plaintiff falsely convicted of rape in 1952.

Stamps v. Hernandez, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95539 (N.D. Ill. 2010)
▸    Obtained summary judgment for plaintiffs whose home was invaded by police executing a warrant who broke into the wrong apartment.

In re Appointment of Special Prosecutor, No. 2001 Misc. 4, Opinion and Order of April 9, 2003
▸    Obtained order appointing a Special Prosecutor in death penalty torture cases.

Castillo v. Zuniga, 2002 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4261 (N.D. Ill. 2002)
▸    Defeated motion to dismiss in unfair trial and wrongful conviction suit where client was wrongfully convicted of a murder he did not commit.

Doe v. Marsalis, 202 F.R.D. 233 (N.D.Ill. 2001)
▸    decision permitting police disciplinary files to be publicly released

People v. Castillo, 89 CR 2461 (2000)
▸    In post-conviction proceeding obtained reversal of murder conviction and subsequently obtained pardon on the basis of innocence.

United States ex rel. Collins v. Welborn, 79 F. Supp. 2d 898 (N.D. Ill. 1999)
▸    Upon remand from the United States Supreme Court, Bracy v. Gramley, obtained reversal of death sentence, based on the corruption of the trial judge. conducted discovery, prepared briefs and successfully vacated sentence in

Wiggins v. Burge, 173 F.R.D. 226 (N.D. Ill. 1997)
▸    Obtained order compelling the public release of secret police torture documents.