David Yellen, dean of the Loyola University Chicago School of Law, is reviewing the cases of about 20 men who are still in prison despite the possibility that they were victims of disgraced Chicago police Commander Jon Burge. The review offers hope that victims of Burge who are still in prison could receive another shot at a hearing into their claims of abuse. The development means that the Burge scandal, long a black eye for Chicago, could play out for many more years in both civil lawsuits and in criminal court. The legal tab for the Burge mess exceeds $100 million and likely will go higher.
Numerous African-American men who were victims of abuse by Burge and his “midnight crew” at a South Side police station in the 1970s and 1980s have been cleared of wrongdoing over the years and freed from prison. Yellen was appointed last year to review unresolved claims by other inmates that they were victims of Burge. Yellen posted messages about the review in all state prisons. He and a group of law students then sorted through some 500 letters from inmates. They found sufficient reasons in dozens of the cases to research evidence to determine if the inmate might qualify for a Burge-related hearing.