Police Accountability Clinic: Victory on CPD Release of Abusive Officer Lists

July 30, 2014

Seven years ago, the University of Chicago Law School’s Mandel Clinic successfully represented Diane Bond, a public housing tenant repeatedly abused by a team of gang tactical officers at the Stateway Gardens development.  

In the course of discovery in the Bond case, the City of Chicago produced lists of officers with more than ten complaints against them over a five year period. Journalist Jamie Kalven, who had written a series of articles about the Bond case, intervened and challenged the protective order as applied to the lists. Federal Judge Joan Lefkow ruled in Kalven's favor. 

“Without such information,” she wrote, “the public would be unable to supervise the individuals and institutions it has entrusted with extraordinary authority to arrest and detain persons against their will. With so much at stake, the defendants simply cannot be permitted to operate in secrecy."

When the City sought a stay of Judge Lefkow's order pending appeal, a headline in the Chicago Sun-Times asked: "What Are They Hiding?"

Today we know the answer to that question, because the City has released the lists at issue in Bond, as well two other lists generated in another civil rights case, Moore v. Chicago.

Upon receiving the documents, Kalven immediately made them universally available on the website of the Invisible Institute (http://the.invisible.institute/news/).

“After arguing for the better part of a decade that documents of this nature are public,” he said, “it gives me great satisfaction today to complete the process of making them so.”

In 2009, Judge Lefkow's decision in Bond was reversed by the United States Court of Appeals. Represented by the Mandel Clinic, Kalven then sought the same documents—as well as the Moore lists—under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.  

More than ten Clinic students worked on Kalven v. Chicago under the supervision ofProfessor Craig Futterman and in close collaboration with Jon Loevy and Samantha Liskow of Loevy & Loevy and Flint Taylor and Ben Elson of the People's Law Office. Two students—Italia Patti, '14, and Saul Cohen, '14—argued the case before the Illinois appellate court.