Public Interest Law Initiative


Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission

Address:

100 W. Randolph St., Suite 10-300
Chicago, IL 60601

Contact: Rob Olmstead

Website: http://www.illinois.gov/tirc

Program:

The Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC) was formed by the Illinois General Assembly in 2009 to investigate claims of torture by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge or officers under his supervision.  TIRC examines claims of tortured confessions and determines whether sufficient evidence of torture exists to merit judicial review.  Convicts whom the Commission refers to court then receive a new hearing on whether their confessions were the product of torture and whether they deserve a new trial.

TIRC is one of several initiatives established to address the Burge torture allegations.  It is separate and unaffiliated with the Chicago reparations ordinance, the Cook County Special Master (Loyola’s Dean Yellen), the Cook County Special Prosecutor’s Office and individual attorneys for claimants. Although TIRC is a state agency, its small budget and organizing statute envisioned the completion of its mission requiring significant pro bono assistance from the legal community. The overwhelming majority of claimants are indigent.

Past PILI Fellows have gained experience by drafting and serving subpoenas, organizing and assessing evidence in case files, recommending further investigative steps needed to reach a determination in a case, responding to Freedom of Information requests, researching and locating crime victims and their relatives to notify them of Commission proceedings, and leading witness interviews under the supervision of a licensed attorney. Limited legal research sometimes is required as well. PILI Fellows are required to be objective, thorough researchers and analysts in order to assist the executive director in presenting the quasi-judicial, eight-member Commission with fair, unbiased assessments of the merits
of claimants’ allegations. The office is small, with few staff members, allowing fellows to work directly with the executive director, and on more infrequent occasions with the Commission chairman.

This agency is approved to host Graduate Fellows in 2017.

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