Karl Leonard Discusses the Challenges Being Made to the Illinois Torture Commission

Illinois lawmakers created a commission to investigate police torture more than a decade ago. Now, special prosecutors acting on behalf of Cook County are challenging it.

The special prosecutors have filed a motion in at least two cases related to Kato, arguing that the torture commission, which referred the cases for a court hearing, is unconstitutional. The commission was formed in 2009 by the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission Act and has played a role in a number of overturned convictions in the past decade. The commission reviews torture claims and refers those it finds credible to judges for a hearing.


“It’s been five years, and we’re no closer to having this hearing,” his attorney, Karl Leonard, with the University of Chicago Law School’s exoneration project clinic. “Instead, we’re dealing with whether the torture commission is constitutional.”

The special prosecutors filed the torture commission motion last month and asked a judge to dismiss the commission’s hearing referrals in both Murray’s and Daniels’ cases.

“My assumption is that their goal is to delay and string out these cases; the better it is for Kriston Kato,” Leonard said. “If the byproduct of that is to eliminate the torture commission so this body stops looking into it, that’s just a bonus.”

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