CHICAGO — A top city lawyer resigned from his post Monday, hours after a federal judge accused him of concealing key evidence in a police shooting lawsuit, according to media reports.
Jordan Marsh, senior corporation counsel for the city, resigned after a judge threw out a previous ruling and ordered a new case in the wrongful lawsuit death brought by the family of Darius Pinex, killed by officers after a 2011 traffic stop in Englewood, according to the Tribune.
Judge Edmond E. Chang on Monday granted Pinex's family a new trial, saying in a scathing ruling that Marsh intentionally hid evidence from the family's legal team prior to the start of the trial.
According to the Sun-Times, Marsh failed to turn over a police radio transmission that proved officers who shot Pinex did not actually hear what they said they did over the radio, which the officers pointed to as their reason for pulling Pinex over in the first place.
"Because of the recording’s untimely disclosure, the first trial was unfair and Plaintiffs’ trial presentation was hurt beyond repair by the surprise," Chang wrote.
Marsh resigned after learning of the judge's ruling, according to the Tribune.
"The Law Department holds its employees to the absolute highest professional and ethical standards and does not tolerate any action that would call into question the lawyers who serve and represent the City of Chicago," Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey said in a statement, according to the Tribune. "The conduct outlined by the court in today's decision is unacceptable."
The ruling comes as the city and police department face immense, national pressure to reform a "code of silence" that shields officers from discipline after fatal shootings. Much of the outcry stems from the release of the video showing Laquan McDonald shot 16 times by an officer. City Hall had fought the video's release for nearly a year.
The judge's ruling is another example of the city procedures that need to be changed before public confidence is restored, said Steven Greenberg, attorney for the Pinex family.
"It sends a very direct message to the city that they have to change their ways," he said of the judge's opinion. "We're ready, willing, able and anxious to retry the case."
Pinex was fatally shot by officers after he was pulled over in 2011 in Englewood. Officer Gildardo Sierra told investigators he and Officer Raoul Mosqueda pulled Pinex and a friend over because his car matched a description of one seen at a recent murder scene, though the officers' accounts of the night have unraveled since then, according to an investigation by the Tribune.
Keeping the dispatch audio from the family's legal team negatively affected their court case against the city, Chang said.
With that evidence, plus the fact that the police narrative of the shooting has come under question, has Greenberg feeling good about the new case, he said.
"We know those officers had no right to pull those two men over," he said. "Their entire story was fabricated. They must have been fed it."
Chang also ordered the city to pay the Pinex's family's legal fees for the new trial.
"Attorneys who might be tempted to bury late-surfacing information need to know that, if discovered, any verdict that they will be forfeit and their clients will pay the price," Judge Chang said in his ruling. "They need to know it is not worth it."
The judge also slammed the city's handling of document requests.
"The attorneys’ gaps in knowledge are exacerbated by the additional fact that paralegals in the Civil Rights Litigation Division, who play a prominent role in gathering documents, also are uncertain of OEMC and Chicago Police Department document policies," Chang wrote. "Darwin Olortegui, who has been one of two Supervising Paralegals in the Division since 2000, acknowledged that there is no procedure 'to ensure that all relevant documents are obtained in a case.' "
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