The city of Chicago's top attorney came to federal court Thursday to address concerns raised by a judge about a recent criminal background check that the city did on a juror who had already been questioned and seated for a police misconduct trial.
In the end, Corporation Counsel Mara Georges did not address the court, but U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly told her and other city attorneys that he will allow background checks on jurors in another police misconduct case pending before him only during jury selection, not after.
The unorthodox criminal check happened last week before another judge in federal court who was presiding over a civil trial in which a South Side family had sued the city and two police officers over an alleged false arrest and physical abuse. It took place on the trial's second day — after the jury had been selected.
Private attorneys representing the city said they became suspicious about a juror's demeanor and had city investigators run his arrest record. The check revealed that the juror had allegedly concealed an arrest history with Chicago police, and the judge in the trial removed him from the panel. He was one of only two African-American jurors on the panel. The remaining seven jurors ruled in the city's favor and didn't award any money to the family.
Here's a question - why aren't jurors screened as a matter of course in any trial? Someone willing to lie about their arrest history is someone willing to award ill-gotten gains in some frivolous suit.
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