Judge orders Sheahan to produce records
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
by ABDON M. PALLASCH Legal Affairs Reporter
For the second time in six days, a federal judge admonished attorneys for Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan that they need to start complying with his orders or face sanctions in a civil case brought by two former jail guards who say they were harassed for reporting their fellow guards' abuse of prisoners.
U.S. District Judge Ruben Castillo gave Sheahan's office four days to produce timecards and payroll records for about 100 jail guards accused of abusing prisoners. So far they have turned over timecards for about 22 guards and no payroll records.
"If you order us to do it, it's going to take a lot of time," Sheahan's attorney John Roache told Castillo.
"The question is: Haven't I already ordered that?" Castillo corrected Roache.
"I don't see why they need the payroll records when they already have the timecards," Roache said. He said his office had given the ex-guards 91 boxes of files from the sheriff's inspector general's office.
Records by Friday
Those records don't show whether two-day suspensions for guards accused of abuse were given on their weekends, and so turned out not to be sanctions at all, said Matt Piers, attorney for the ex-guards.
"Every step of the way what we're seeing is sanctions were not followed through by the sheriff's office," Piers told Castillo. "They'd give them the weekend when they're not working anyway."
Castillo ordered Roache to find the records and turn them over by Friday.
"It seems to me that [sheriff's officials] are deciding midstream, 'We've done enough -- you've got your 91 boxes.' I'm ordering you to fully comply by Oct. 14," Castillo said.
Sheahan denies being 55 minutes late
Last week Castillo ordered Sheahan to sit for an additional two hours of deposition before Piers after Piers testified that Sheahan showed up 55 minutes late to the first 10 a.m. deposition and "ran the clock" out by giving long answers and breaking often to caucus with his attorneys.
Sheahan angrily denied that he was late to the deposition, saying he arrived at 9:45 a.m. and was told to come back at 10:30 a.m., which he did.
Sheahan said he was at Piers' office until 5:05 p.m., more than the six hours the deposition was supposed to last.
He answered every question, though he said of Piers, "He didn't like the answers I gave."
Sheahan said the ex-guards' attorney is forcing county officials like him to sit for depositions and produce unnecessary paperwork to push them into offering a big settlement to end their case.
Sheahan maintains the ex-guards left the county of their own volition and were not forced out.