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Thursday, April 12, 2007 03:21 pm

Legal eagles

City defendants get some muscle in Larry Washington case

Untitled Document Springfield taxpayers will pay for top-flight private attorneys to defend three former police officers — two who were fired and one who has multiple lawsuits pending against the city — in a federal civil-rights lawsuit, if the next City Council approves. Several of the attorneys have already entered their appearances with the court in the case filed by Larry Washington, who was arrested in March 2005 after officers of the Springfield Police Department raided his home and found a half-kilo of cocaine. Charges against Washington were dropped after forensics tests revealed problems with the evidence used to obtain the search warrant. The detectives who gathered the evidence and obtained the search warrant, Paul Carpenter and Jim Graham, were fired in October after an investigation by the Illinois State Police determined that the pair had repeatedly violated department policies. Carpenter has also been indicted on charges of official misconduct and wire fraud. Court documents filed in the Washington case indicate that Carpenter will be represented by Thomas P. Schanzle-Haskins, a former assistant U.S. attorney and now partner in the prestigious Brown, Hay & Stephens law firm. Graham will be represented by Frederick P. Velde and Theresa M. Powell of Heyl Royster Voelker & Allen. Velde is the managing partner of the firm’s Springfield office. Retired SPD Lt. Rickey Davis, who has three federal lawsuits pending against the city of Springfield and various current and former police officials, will be represented by former U.S. Attorney and former Sangamon County State’s Attorney Bill Roberts, Illinois Times has learned. Roberts, managing partner of Hinshaw & Culbertson, served as chief legal counsel to Gov. Jim Edgar and was chairman of the U.S. Attorney General’s Advisory Committee of U.S. Attorneys. Jenifer Johnson, corporation counsel for the city of Springfield, explained in an e-mail Tuesday afternoon that hiring private attorneys for these three former officers is necessary because her office has a conflict of interest with all three. Davis’ conflict is obvious, but Johnson declined to specify what conflict her office has with Carpenter and Graham. “I cannot discuss the nature of the conflict, but trust me, we have one,” she wrote. Asked why it was necessary to hire such prestigious attorneys, Johnson responded that she did not purposely seek out Roberts, Velde, and Schanzle-Haskins. “I contacted the managing partners of local law firms that do federal civil-rights defense. I did not handpick the lawyers at those firms who will be doing the work. That is up to the individual firms,” she wrote. Meanwhile, other defendants still employed by the SPD will be represented by two attorneys on Johnson’s staff — Megan Morgan and Jim Lang. Morgan is a former assistant state’s attorney. Lang is the lawyer who recently stunned federal-court spectators by presenting a chart depicting white police lieutenants as regular glazed doughnuts and black police lieutenants as chocolate glazed doughnuts. Johnson said Morgan and Lang were chosen on the basis of their “extensive litigation experience” to defend Deputy Chief William Rouse and detectives J.T. Wooldridge and Steve Welsh. 

Contact Dusty Rhodes at drhodes@illinoistimes.com.
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