MacArthur Justice Center lawyers sue Chicago Police on detaining witnesses

Cops sued on detaining witnesses; U. of C. lawyers name department and Cline personally
David Heinzmann
Chicago Final Edition
April 6, 2005

Advocacy lawyers filed a lawsuit Tuesday charging the Chicago Police Department regularly violates the constitutional rights of crime witnesses by locking them up for days until they get the information they're seeking.

It's the fourth such suit filed in recent years by the University of Chicago's MacArthur Justice Center on behalf of clients they allege were picked up by police, locked in interview rooms and coerced into staying despite a constitutional right to leave, said attorney Locke Bowman.

Ramon Ayala was picked up by detectives Sunday afternoon because police believed he witnessed a murder at the corner of 24th Street and Christiana Avenue on Saturday, according to the suit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court. His sister contacted lawyers at the MacArthur Justice Center and the university's Mandel Legal Aid Clinic.

Ayala was held until Tuesday afternoon, even as his lawyers made repeated efforts to see him and inform him that he could leave, said Bowman.

Bowman said Ayala was released after providing information to police and testifying before a grand jury in the investigation.

In addition to the city and Police Department, the suit names Supt. Philip Cline, individually, as a defendant. The suit alleges Cline is aware of a widespread practice of detaining witnesses during investigations and accused him of "turning a blind eye" to the pract