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Civil Rights — Equitable tolling

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//November 14, 2014//

Civil Rights — Equitable tolling

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//November 14, 2014//

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U.S. Court of Appeals
For the 7th Circuit


Civil Rights — Equitable tolling

Even if the defendant police officer did torture suspects to extract confessions, prisoners are not entitled to equitably toll the statute of limitations on the grounds that no one would have believed them until the practice was exposed by others.

“Instead of contending that the traditional criteria for equitable tolling apply, plaintiffs maintain that delay should be excused because they are confident that, had they sued earlier, they would have lost. They assert that Burge and other officers would have committed perjury at trial and that jurors would have believed the defendants. Until Burge’s criminal conviction (June 28, 2010) litigation would have been pointless, plaintiffs maintain. That is questionable.
Reports of Burge’s misconduct were circulating publicly by 1990. One opinion called this ‘common knowledge’ by the mid-1990s. United States ex rel. Maxwell v. Gilmore, 37 F. Supp. 2d 1078, 1094 (N.D. Ill. 1999). Burge was suspended in 1991 after his supervisors concluded that he had tortured suspects. His name first appeared in this circuit’s opinions in 1993, the year the Police Department fired him, when we reported that a jury had found that he violated suspects’ rights. Wilson v. Chicago, 6 F.3d 1233 (7th Cir. 1993). In 2006 a Special State’s Attorney released a report stating that Burge and his colleagues had engaged in systematic torture of suspects. See People v. Wrice, 2012 IL 111860 ¶¶41–43 (S. Ct. Ill.) (recounting the report’s conclusions). And plaintiffs acknowledge that before Burge’s conviction at least 10 of his victims succeeded in obtaining damages, in amounts as high as $14.8 million.”


13-3301 Moore v. Burge

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Darrah, J., Easterbrook, J.

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