Burge Torture Victim Gets New Trial as Judge Voids Bogus Murder Conviction
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Judge Calls Evidence Against Burge and Underlings "Staggering" and "Damning" CHICAGO, May 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Nineteen years after he was viciously beaten by subordinates of indicted former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, Victor Safforld -- formerly known as Cortez Brown -- was awarded a new trial Friday when a Cook County Circuit Judge overturned his wrongful murder conviction, and calls the evidence against the rogue cops "staggering" and "damning." The decision by Judge Clayton Crane buoys hopes of ending the prolonged injustice inflicted on Safforld, who was bludgeoned with a flashlight by Burge's underlings until he submitted a false confession to the 1990 killings of Devin Boelter and Curitis Sims. Safforld was subsequently sentenced to death based exclusively on that spurious confession. That sentence was later commuted to life in prison, where Safforld has languished since 1991. "This decision brings redemption not only to Victor Safforld and his family, but to all of those who have steadfastly fought for so long to hold Jon Burge and his henchmen accountable for their reprehensible acts," said Locke Bowman, Legal Director of the Roderick MacArthur Justice Center, which, with attorneys Flint Taylor, Joey Mogul and Sarah Gelsomino of the People's Law Office, represents Safforld. Safforld's lawyers said the ruling should convince Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan to cease all efforts to prevent new trials for all other Burge torture victims. "The Attorney General should never have proceeded with this case, and now she must come to the reality that she cannot in good conscience fight for the continued imprisonment of Burge's torture victims," said Taylor, founding partner of the People's Law Office. "That will only perpetuate the grave injustice they have suffered for so many years." During a four-day evidentiary hearing this week, attorneys for Safforld methodically demonstrated how current Chicago Police Detective John O'Brien and retired Detectives John Paladino and Tony Maslanka, under the supervision of both Burge and John Byrne, beat their client with fists and a flashlight, snubbed his requests for a lawyer and deprived him of food until he agreed to sign a false confession. "The evidence against [Burge and his subordinates] is staggering," said Judge Crain. "It is damning." All three detectives, along with Byrne, appeared as witnesses during the hearing and invoked the Fifth Amendment in response to questions about their role in Safforld's mistreatment, as well as a multitude of other cases where other suspects said they were similarly abused by the detectives. The detectives acted under the command of Burge, who has been charged by federal authorities in connection with the torture he systematically visited on African-American criminal suspects during a 30-year period. MacArthur Justice Center is an independent, publicly funded law firm, founded in 1985 by Roderick MacArthur. SOURCE The MacArthur Justice Center Emily Blum, +1-312-408-2580, x13, +1-773-620-4603, for The MacArthur Justice Center; or Locke Bowman of The MacArthur Justice Center, +1-773-710-0158
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