CHICAGO (AP) — When a federal judge concluded that a lawyer employed by the city of Chicago concealed audio evidence in a civil trial, the court issued a sharp rebuke, saying the recordings showed police lied about the events that led officers to shoot and kill a black motorist.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel portrayed it as an isolated instance of unscrupulous lawyering, but City Hall lawyers have, in fact, faced similar criticism in nearly half a dozen police-misconduct cases in recent years.
And it’s not just Chicago. An Associated Press review of hundreds of court records nationwide revealed similar patterns of behavior involving municipal attorneys in other cities, including New York, Baltimore, Denver and Spokane, Washington. Lawyers deliberately hid important facts, delayed their disclosure or otherwise sought to subvert evidence in civil cases, the review found.
Municipal lawyers represent city employees in noncriminal matters and rarely attract public attention because they operate far behind elected leaders. Court records indicate they are often a weak link in systems designed to expose police misdeeds and hold officers accountable.