Pinstripe Patronage Chicago Style: $63.9 Million Paid to Private Firms

(Revised and updated on June 13, 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 $63,909,929 in fees and costs to 11 private law firms in 447 police cases during that time period, (Table 1), with $18,895,165 being 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 $15,288,388 in outside counsel fees since the City began to finance the defense of Burge and his men in 1988, and has paid $13,010,166 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, Hale, 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. In Peterson v. City of Chicago, Judge Milton Shadur found Hale lawyers to have made Adownright disingenuous@ and Atotally 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.” 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).

Third 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, $2,947,927 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.

Fourth 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 next 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).

The other firms that collected substantial payments 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 police cases, (Table 12), and Leinenweber, Baroni and Daffada, which collected $426,898, $116,200 of which was in a Burge wrongful conviction case. (Tables 2 and 13).

The more than $63.9 million paid to these 11 firms is only a portion of the total funds expended by the City of Chicago since 2003 to defend police cases, as there are a number of additional firms, most notably Johnson and Bell, that have also been feeding at the public trough by defending these cases. We have an outstanding Freedom of Information Act request pending with the City that seeks to obtain those outlays and will further update this study when the City complies.

Corporation Counsel Patton has, to his credit, moved to limit this “pinstripe patronage,” but the most questionable recipient, Hale and Associates, continues to run wild in the police torture cases. This money could be put to much better use properly compensating victims of police misconduct and abuse. The referenced Tables 1-14 appear below.