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Proviso Probe

Friday, December 09, 2005

PO-PO, Johnsen testifies at Harder hearing [FP]

"Several incidents of police brutality went uninvestigated or under-investigated"--Steve Johnsen, Lieutenant, Forest Park Police Department (former acting chief of police)

The Fire & Police Commission held another hearing on the termination of Sgt. Dan Harder yesterday. However, the hearing wasn't primarily about understanding the truth of what did and didn't happen. The hearing was primarily about haggling over which documents would be allowed as evidence--only Johnsen was in the witness chair the whole time. It was a bit confusing to non-lawyers watching.

The hearing started late because Harder's attorney, Jeanine Stevens, was delayed by the snow storm. And it ended early because one of the commissioners doubles as a school board member and the D91 meeting started at 7PM. Even the shortened version of the meeting felt like a glimpse of hell. I was watching stop-and-go argumentation over stuff I didn't understand about an underlying subject I cared about.

Stevens seemed to be fumbling with the rules of evidence. Were they different rules than the ones she was used to? Was the Fire & Police Commission attorney being more picayune than Stevens was expecting? Is Stevens weak at playing evidence games?

It seemed weird that Stevens would ask for a document to be admitted into evidence, Lucansky, the attorney for the Police Department, would object and then there would be no decision on whether to admit the document until much later. Stevens would take testimony about the document. I think, the testimony was supposed to bolster the admissability of the document.

Lucansky was making some frivolous objections, but if the other attorney has trouble hitting the curveball, why wouldn't Lucansky throw the curveball?

Lucansky objected to Stevens feeding Johnsen names of "Cruikshank"--whom Johnsen had already ID'd as the "alleged Wrigleyville Rapist"--and the cop that allegedly beat Cruikshank. The names weren't material to the point Stevens was making--Harder had complained about the cop beating Cruikshank--but Stevens had trouble parrying the objections. This kept her off balance and killed the continuity of the narrative.

Lucansky also objected to the relevance to Commissioner Tim Gillian telling Johnsen Harder was "dead to him". Lucansky argued this was irrelevant to how Ryan treated Harder. Stevens was not able to clearly state that if Gillian leaned on Ryan's predecessor about Harder it seems reasonable to infer Gillian leaned on Ryan about Harder.

One of the interesting points Johnsen made was that the Forest Park Police Department is divided into two. One faction is more gung-ho and the other faction is more cerebral. Johnsen said Ryan favors the gung-ho types, and I got the impression Ryan is trying to purge the more cerebral cops.

Most management advisors tell you to blend different personalities, so you have access to everyone's strengths. Johnsen's testimony seemed to portray Ryan as a guy that values uniformity and loyalty so highly he's unable to work effectively with people that don't share his style of policing.

Getting back to the arguments about admissability: it seemed like a waste of time. Stevens says that Harder wants to get back to work. And according the Forest Park Review (Seth Stern) Mayor Anthony Calderone is complaining about cost of the hearing.

So, who wins for dragging out the case? The lawyers all get paid by the hour. I'll bitch about municipal lawyers in a separate entry.


  • Dear Mayor Calderone and Mike Sturino,

    I like you guys, but if you aren't investigating and prosecuting police brutality under your cognizance, I hope the Justice Department holds you accountable.

    Being responsible is why you guys get paid the big bucks.

    By Blogger Carl Nyberg, at 5:26 PM, December 09, 2005  

  • Can you say arrogant, petty, vindictive, mindless fucktards?

    By Anonymous rehctaw, at 11:11 PM, December 10, 2005  

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