Jeffrey Cummings, former civil rights attorney recently appointed as federal judge, previously endorsed report that criticized inquiry into allegations of torture by Jon Burge and group known as "midnight crew"
Attorneys representing the Chicago Police Department are seeking the recusal of U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Cummings from presiding over a lawsuit filed by James Gibson. Gibson spent decades in prison, alleging that he was framed by detectives working under the command of corrupt former Cmdr. Jon Burge.
Judge Cummings, previously an attorney specializing in civil rights cases, was among numerous legal professionals who endorsed reports condemning a special prosecutor's investigation into torture accusations by Burge and his notorious "midnight crew" of detectives more than 15 years ago. However, unlike some supporters, Cummings did not contribute to the research and drafting of these reports.
Assigned a docket of over 200 cases last month, Cummings now faces the lawsuit from Gibson, who accuses Burge's detectives of coercing a false confession in a 1989 double-murder. The case, initially before Judge Sara Ellis, had U.S. Magistrate Judge David Weisman handling settlement discussions.
City lawyers argue that Cummings' prior endorsement of reports on Burge disqualifies him from presiding over this case and plan to request his recusal.
Gibson's legal team highlights that objections haven't been raised regarding Judge Weisman, who, in a previous role as an assistant U.S. attorney, led the prosecution team that secured Burge's imprisonment for 4 1⁄2 years in 2011.
While the city Law Department declined to comment, Gibson's attorney, Andrew M. Stroth, decried the attempt to disqualify Cummings as a delaying tactic, alleging that Chicago's legal representatives are hindering justice for an innocent man.
Gibson, originally sentenced to life for the 1989 murders, claims he was beaten by detectives Anthony Maslanka and John Paladino. The state Torture Inquiry Relief Commission found his accusations credible, leading to a review of his case. An appeals court overturned Gibson's conviction, and a special prosecutor dropped the charges.