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Illinois lawmakers created a commission to investigate police torture more than a decade ago. Now, special prosecutors acting on behalf of Cook County are challenging it

Madeline Buckley, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

CHICAGO — A Cook County judge last year moved cases involving allegations of torture by a former Chicago police detective to Will County, because the detective was married to another sitting Cook County judge.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx quickly followed suit and stepped away, and special prosecutors were appointed, beginning a new chapter in a familiar Chicago tale.

A Chicago police detective accused of torture. Judges and prosecutors mired in a tangle of conflicts of interests.

But in a surprise move nearly a year later, the special prosecutors assigned to cases connected to former CPD Detective Kriston Kato are taking aim at a 15-year-old statute enacted in the wake of allegations surrounding notorious ex-CPD Detective Jon Burge that created a torture commission to investigate claims of police abuse.

The special prosecutors have filed a motion in at least two cases related to Kato, arguing that the torture commission, which referred the cases for a court hearing, is unconstitutional. The commission was formed in 2009 by the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission Act and has played a role in a number of overturned convictions in the past decade. The commission reviews torture claims and refers those it finds credible to judges for a hearing.

“Kato been on the radar of those who have been wrongfully convicted for decades, and now the chickens are coming home to roost,” said Flint Taylor, an attorney who has been involved in cases alleging CPD torture. “The county should be on the right side of history and not on the side of throwing a frivolous monkey wrench into the proceedings.”


Kato is married to Cook County Judge Mary Margaret Brosnahan, who currently works in the criminal division.

Defense attorneys involved in the cases have accused the special prosecutors of running amok, costing the county hundreds of thousands of dollars while straying from their objective.

Further, they allege, the county swapped one conflict of interest for another. The special prosecutors appointed are former Cook County assistant state’s attorneys who worked at the office during Kato’s time at CPD, according to the attorneys. The defense attorneys have filed a motion to disqualify Fabio Valentini and Maria McCarthy, former prosecutors now in private practice, from serving as special prosecutors on the case.

Valentini and McCarthy did not respond to a request for comment from the Tribune.


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