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Cook County expected to pay $17 million in Burge-connected Jackie Wilson case

Cook County is expected to pay $17 million to a Chicago man who was exonerated in the 1982 killings of two Chicago police officers, according to court records and a recommendation from a county board subcommittee.

Cook County commissioners are scheduled to vote on the settlement this week, which would bring a quiet end to the civil rights lawsuit filed against former Cook County state’s attorneys who accused Jackie Wilson of murders committed by her older brother.

Lawsuit against several Chicago police officers The case will continue in federal court.

Wilson’s case dates back more than 40 years to the killings of Chicago police officers William Fahey and Richard O’Brien, who were fatally shot by Wilson’s older brother, Andrew, during a traffic stop.

Jackie Wilson, then 21, was behind the wheel of the car and was accused of being the getaway driver. Wilson said he didn’t know his brother was going to shoot the cops.

Courts had previously found that both brothers were tortured into confessing by Chicago police officers under Cmdr. Jon Burge’s orders. For two decades, Burge and his so-called team of rogue midnight detectives tortured criminal suspects, forcing dozens of confessions.

Disgraced former Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge, accused of presiding over decades of brutality and torture, dies

Chicago taxpayers have paid more than $130 million in lawsuits and judgments related to Burge’s conduct over the past two decades, according to public records. This amount includes $5.5 million in compensation for torture victims, approved by the Chicago City Council in 2015.

The Wilson settlement, believed to be one of the largest single-defendant cases in Cook County history, is an unusual step for the state attorney’s office. Prosecutors are often excluded from wrongful conviction cases because they have near-absolute immunity from such cases. However, exceptions are made when their actions are not related to defending the prosecution, such as acting as an investigator or serving as a witness.

A spokesman for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office could not be reached for comment late Monday.

Wilson, now 63, spent almost 37 years in prison before being acquitted and sentenced at his third trial in 2020. certificate of innocence. That case was halted after a special prosecutor alleged that then-Cook County assistant state’s attorney Nicholas Trutenko knowingly gave false testimony on the stand.

Jackie Wilson, who spent 36 years in prison for police murder, was released days after his confession was rejected

Trutenko, the lead prosecutor in Jackie Wilson’s second trial, is accused of concealing his decades-long friendship with a British con artist who served as a key witness at the 1989 trial. But Trutenko’s lawyers said the relationship began after Wilson’s death. He had left the office for private practice and had nothing to do with the case.

Trutenko was charged with perjury, official misconduct, obstruction of justice and violating a local records law related to witness testimony in Wilson’s third trial in 2020. Cook County assistant state’s attorney Andrew Horvat, who represented Trutenko at the hearing, was charged with: Official misconduct after a special prosecutor warned Horvat not to ask Trutenko about the friendship during his deposition.

Both men denied the charges. The strange friendship between a prosecutor and his witness – close enough for the prosecutor to later become godfather to the con artist’s daughter – was the focus of the trial. male criminal caseIt started late last year at the Rolling Meadows courthouse. However, the proceedings were abruptly halted after the judge restricted the testimony of a key witness and the special prosecutor made a request to that effect. rare mid-trial appeal.

The case is currently pending in the Illinois 1st District Court of Appeals.

Trutenko and Horvat were named as defendants in the Wilson civil rights complaint, which is expected to be resolved by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. If the settlement is approved, their names will be removed from the case.

Horvat’s attorney, Terry Ekl, said the agreement was made between Wilson and the county without any input from his client.

“Since we are not part of the agreement, frankly, there is no admission of wrongdoing,” Ekl said. “It has no bearing on the criminal case.”

Trutenko’s lawyers could not be reached for comment.

If the county board approves the settlement, all other former Cook County state’s attorney employees named in the lawsuit will be dismissed. The named defendants include former Cook County prosecutor Lawrence Hyman, who obtained Wilson’s tainted confession, and the estate of prominent former prosecutor William Kunkle, who was the lead prosecutor at Wilson’s first trial and died in 2022.

The agreement will also prevent further investigation into how Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office handled Trutenko’s constitutional rights following his indictment.

In November, Lake County Judge Daniel Shanes, who was assigned to the case after the entire Cook County judiciary was dismissed, barred much of the testimony of an assistant state’s attorney assigned to his civil litigation office and ruled that he had an attorney-client relationship. Trutenko in the weeks leading up to his testimony at Wilson’s 2020 trial.

This attorney testified before the grand jury that indicted Trutenko in March 2023.

Shanes filed a lengthy opinion in which he condemned the handling of the matter by Foxx’s office and called the concept of attorney-client privilege “the foundation of justice.”

“The attorney-client privilege is the oldest privilege in American law. This is the longest-standing doctrine of our kind in our jurisprudence,” said Shanes.

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