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Daley agrees to be questioned under oath about Burge

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley

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Updated: April 11, 2012 2:24AM

Former Mayor Richard M. Daley has agreed to be questioned under oath by lawyers suing the city of Chicago over allegations of police torture.

Just when that will happen hasn’t been decided, according to G. Flint Taylor, a lawyer for those suing the city.

Taylor said after a hearing Tuesday in federal court that the city has agreed to produce the former mayor for a deposition and that city officials want to meet with the plaintiffs’ lawyers on Thursday to discuss the scope of the questioning.

This latest development in the long-running police-torture case comes in response to efforts to compel Daley to answer the lawyers’ questions in sworn, pretrial testimony — something Daley and City Hall had fought.

“We’ve been frustrated over the last seven months,” Taylor said of the city’s resistance to having Daley be deposed. “We’re troubled they want to limit the scope of the deposition. They say the devil is in the details. Certainly, we don’t believe there is any reason to limit the scope.”

Law Department spokesman Roderick Drew confirmed “Daley is making himself available for a deposition. We expected the deposition to happen in due course. There were some extenuating circumstances as to why this didn’t happen before.”

Drew said the extenuating circumstances had to do with Daley’s personal life. Daley’s wife, Maggie, died last November after a long battle with breast cancer.

Before that, the city had asked U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer to reconsider her ruling that placed Daley in the conspiracy, thus making him available for deposition.

Pallmeyer ruled against that bid.

Daley is named as a defendant in a civil suit filed by Michael Tillman, who spent 23 years in prison for a murder he says he didn’t commit but confessed to only after police tortured him.

In a 49-page document filed last month in U.S. District Court, Daley denied that he knew anything about what the attorneys who filed the case say was a conspiracy to cover up police torture of African Americans at the hands of former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his underlings.

Daley repeatedly denied knowing anything about the alleged torture of numerous defendants while he was Cook County state’s attorney and later when he became mayor. Daley also denied a claim that he tried to block or undercut efforts to expose or prosecute Burge and his men.

Late last year, Pallmeyer ruled Daley could be sued as a defendant for his alleged role in the plaintiffs’ claim of a cover-up conspiracy.

In his role as state’s attorney, Daley has prosecutorial immunity from lawsuits, but not as mayor, according to Pallmeyer’s ruling.

When Tillman was released in 2010, special prosecutors concluded there was no reliable evidence against him. Tillman received a certificate of innocence from the chief judge of the criminal court of Cook County.

Two years ago, Burge was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice for lying in a civil court case when asked if he knew of the torture. He is serving a 4-1/2-year sentence in federal prison.

A trial date has not yet been set in the Tillman case.

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