Key Moments in the Fake Stash House Litigation

Early 2014

Siegler gets a call from a former colleague who asks if her clinic is interested in helping litigate an appeal in US v. Davis, one of several cases involving defendants charged with agreeing to rob fake stash houses—stings, he says, that disproportionately targeted Black and Hispanic people. She says yes.

March 2014

Siegler and Miller brief the US v. Davis appeal, which involves the standard for obtaining discovery in a selective law enforcement case.

September 2014

FCJC wins the Seventh Circuit appeal in US v. Davis but the government appeals to the en banc Seventh Circuit. Later that fall, Siegler and Miller convince defense attorneys on 11 other fake stash house cases to let them coordinate across all 12 cases. They will use statistical analysis to show racially selective enforcement, comparing the demographics of 94 Chicago-area defendants charged in fake stash house cases with a “similarly situated comparison group.”

March 2015

FCJC requests data from the Illinois State Police about individuals in the comparison group—292,442 people from the Chicago area who also met the ATF’s targeting criteria.

June 3, 2015

Siegler delivers an oral argument before the en banc Seventh Circuit in US v. Davis. In July, the Seventh Circuit issues its ruling and becomes the first federal appellate court to lower the standard for obtaining discovery in support of a claim of racial discrimination by the police.

December 2015

After nine months of litigation, the Illinois State Police turns over data on the comparison group.

Spring 2016

After an extended battle over whether ATF documents can be used across all 12 cases, FCJC convinces the government to grant them access.

September 2016

The FCJC files the first of their 12 motions to dismiss along with their expert’s report. His analysis rules out race-neutral explanations for the ATF’s targeting choices.

December 14 and 15, 2017

In a landmark joint evidentiary hearing at the Dirksen US Courthouse in Chicago, nine federal district judges hear testimony from dueling policing experts in all 12 fake stash house cases.

February 2018

Prosecutors offer plea deals to the 43 men charged in the fake stash house robberies. All 43 take the deals, and most are sentenced to time served later that year.

March 2018

In his 73-page ruling in US v. Brown, Chief Judge Rubén Castillo of the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois writes that the stash house cases “have served to undermine legitimate law enforcement efforts in this country.” He stops short, however, of dismissing the charges.

Early 2021

Zunkel and a team of FCJC students file motions for compassionate release on behalf of two clients who had been sentenced to lengthy prison terms before the stash house litigation began. They also file an appeal in another pre-litigation case.