Wednesday, August 2, 2006

Trib's torturous turn on its legal giants

Both Chicago papers were giddy with excitement over the release of the Burge torture report, which I'm sure reporters and editors believed would name names and put the hammer down on a flotilla of police and prosecutors for misconduct.

There's no story the Tribune loves more than that. So in preparation, to sharpen the contrast between good and evil, they profiled the two special prosecutors, Appellate Court Judge Edward Egan and former prosecutor Robert Boyle, calling them at one point in the story, "giants among men." Here's the lede:
When Cook County's chief Criminal Court judge chose a special prosecutor team in 2002 to investigate one of the biggest scandals in police history--allegations of systematic torture under former Chicago Cmdr. Jon Burge--he picked two men regarded by colleagues as legal giants.
Prosecutors only get that kind of coverage from the Tribune when they go after other prosecutors.

But to the chagrin of many in the Tower, I'm sure, the report was damning toward some police and prosecutors but it was far from the blockbuster many expected. So in the intervening days, the paper has vented by allowing defense lawyer/bomb thrower Flint Taylor to take one shot after another at Mayor Richard Daley, Cook County State's Attorney Dick Devine and others who had a role in the Burge case over the years. In the process, Taylor is saying the report was not worthy of a couple of legal giants.

This evening the latest Taylor rantings were given serious and lengthy coverage again in the Tribune. The Trib can't take back its "legal giants" title, but it can do the next best thing: it can give a defense lawyer who has never been called a legal giant himself (so says Nexis) a free pass to try to chop them down to size.

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