Chicago torture commission moves toward consideration of new cases

The Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC) is unlike any public body in the country. Their meetings resemble something like the pro-forma agenda of a City Hall agenda, with motions and minutes and the like, but their charge is far graver than government minutiae: to consider cases where police torture may have influenced the outcome of cases at the hands of Chicago police officers.

TIRC, though, is about to take on even more responsibility with a stressed budget and a small staff. Until now, it had solely, by law, dealt with victims who alleged torture from former Cmdr. Jon Burge or those under his command. The commission has methodically, some would say too slowly, sought to go through those claims since it started meeting in August 2011.

A new state law this year calls for the commission to consider non-Burge cases and the ramifications are enormous. It means anyone alleging torture could have their claims investigated by the TIRC. The commission has already receieved 212 claim letters seeking forms and three people have filed claims of torture. Another 129 cases that were previously rejected because the claims of torture didn’t fall under Burge have been notified, TIRC executive director Rob Olmstead said at a the agency’s bi-monthly meeting Wednesday.

New rules are being circulated to the appropriate officials and a lengthy rules process will likely go through at least the end of the year until cases are reconsidered.

Among those waiting in earnest is Anabel Perez, whose son Jaime Hauad was tortured at the hands of police, an initial TIRC review found. (Rob Warden, co-director of Injustice Watch and the emeritus executive director of the Bluhm Center on Wrongful Convictions, took a look at the case here.)

While Hauad’s case wasn’t up for review, his mother, Anabel Perez, asked the commission whether his case could seen be reconsidered. TIRC can’t rule on whether Hauad should be exonerated but can refer the case for a hearing on whether a new trial or other action is appropriate.

Hauad was 17 in 1997 when he was charged with killing Jason Goral and Jose Morales outside a bar known as Whoops near the intersection of North Kedzie Avenue and West George Street in Chicago.

“Is he going to be 50 or 60 before I can have my son home?” Perez asked the commission. “How long will it take? (Torture) was proved. It came from the police department. Where does he stand? Does he have to be tortured for more?”

The commission also voted on several cases Wednesday, saying that because allegations of torture either took place outside Cook County or were convicted outside the county — by law, TIRC can’t consider those cases.

The cases dismissed were for Ernest Hubbard, Peter Hommerson, Willie Green, Ursery Fernandez, Ernest Perry and Dale Anderson.

Updated: Read details of those cases and the full decisions in links provided.

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