Summary: An ex-Chicago gangster was awarded $5.6 million in legal fees in addition to his $22 million damages judgment.
The city of Chicago has been ordered to pay the Legal Fees of a former gang member who alleged he was framed for murder. According to The Chicago Tribune, those fees amount to a whopping $5.6 million.
U.S. District Judge Matthew Kennelly awarded the money to Nathson Fields, a former member of the El Rukn gang. Fields alleged that in 1984, two Chicago police detectives framed him for two murders that sent him to death row.
Kennelly said that Chicago must pay his multi-million dollar legal fees and that they could be liable for tens of thousands of other expenses. While the number is still being finalized, a spokesperson for Chicago’s Law Department said that the amount was “excessive” and that the city planned to file an appeal.
Fields’ journey in the legal system spanned two criminal trials and three federal civil trials. At the former gangster’s third civil trial in 2016, a jury awarded him $22 million in damages. They believed that Sgt. David O’Callaghan and Lt. Joseph Murphy violated his rights by withholding evidence during the trial that could have exonerated him.
Fields was a member of Chicago’s murderous street gang, El Rukn, which was led by kingpin Jeff Fort. He was convicted for the killings of Talman Hickman and Jerome “Fuddy” Smith, two rival gang members of the Black Gangster Disciples’ Goon Squad. In his first criminal trial, the judge, Thomas Maloney, was later convicted of accepting a $10,000 bribe to fix the case, so Fields was later given a second chance.
In 2009, Fields’ fellow Rukn gang member testified at his second criminal trial that Fields had killed the two men, but Judge Vincent Gaughan said the witness was unreliable and acquitted Fields. Once released from prison, Fields requested money because of his wrongful imprisonment, but the county prosecutors put up a fight. This led to the three civil trials, and Fields’ eventual $22 million award.
“This was a highly complex case that required mastery of an extensive factual record created by, among other things, two state court criminal trials, extensive federal criminal proceedings involving the El Rukn street gang, a seven-day trial in this case that ended in a mistrial, the full sixteen-day trial in 2014, and a massive quantity of documents,” Kennelly wrote.
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