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County pays $525,000 to former Death Row inmate in wrongful prosecution case

Tuesday, March 02, 2010
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

The Cook County Board today agreed to pay $525,000 to a former Death Row inmate already given $5.5 million by the city to settle a wrongful conviction lawsuit.

The money due under the settlement approved by the board will be paid to Leroy Orange in five equal installments, the last of which is due in January 2014. He spent 19 years behind bars until former Gov. George Ryan pardoned him in 2003.

Like several other former murder defendants, Orange alleged that former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge used torture to force his murder confession. Neither the city nor the county admitted wrongdoing in settling the cases.

The city portion of the suit, settled two years ago, alleged wrongdoing by police officers. The county portion deal with alleged wrongdoing by a Dennis Dernbach, a onetime assistant state’s attorney who went on to become a judge before retiring.

“It’s really a good deal for everyone,” Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-Evanston, said of the settlement. “It gets us out from under this, and it ends all litigation. There will be no appeal. This settles everything.”


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