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Tuesday, July 30, 2013 07:32 pm

City subpoenaed in Shredgate

Attorney disciplinary board launches investigation

The Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission has demanded records on the shredding of police disciplinary files from the city of Springfield.

The city on July 24 received a subpoena from the ARDC, which has the power to investigate alleged wrongdoing by lawyers and recommend sanctions to the state Supreme Court, which has the power to levy punishments ranging from reprimands to disbarment. The ARDC in its subpoena did not identify the target of its investigation, saying only that it was investigating attorney John Doe.

Under the subpoena, the city has until Aug. 8 to turn over documents that include all records related to the creation of a memorandum of understanding between the city and the police union that shortened the retention period of internal affairs files from five to four years. The ARDC is also demanding all records pertaining to the destruction of internal affairs files and records relating to Freedom of Information Act requests for records that were destroyed. The ARDC in its subpoena names requests made by Calvin Christian III, Lt. Wendell Banks and the State Journal-Register in demanding memos, emails and other internal documents relating to those requests.

While the ARDC did not name the attorney that is the subject of its investigation, WICS Channel 20 News has obtained emails showing that former corporation counsel Mark Cullen told an assistant that internal affairs files, including at least one that was the subject of a pending FOIA request, needed to be “expunged” immediately when the police union and the city agreed to shorten the document retention period, contrary to state law that says that such records can’t be destroyed without permission of the local records commission set up under state law. The city then destroyed dozens of files, including an internal affairs file on deputy chief Cliff Buscher documenting a drunken shooting incident in Missouri that had been requested by Christian.

Cullen, who resigned after the television report aired, could not be reached for comment.

Contact Bruce Rushton at brushton@illinoistimes.com.

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