Judge refuses to toss lawsuit by man who spent decades in prison

SHARE Judge refuses to toss lawsuit by man who spent decades in prison
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Mark Maxson and his mother, Almeater Maxson, at his lawyer Elliott Zinger’s office. | Frank Main/Sun-Times

A federal judge Wednesday refused to dismiss a lawsuit brought against the city by a man who spent 22 years in prison as a result of a wrongful conviction for the slaying of a 6-year-old boy.

Mark Maxson was convicted of the 1992 killing of Lindsey Murdock on the South Side. He was freed in 2016 after DNA linked Osborne Wade to the killing.

Wade, who allegedly confessed, is now charged with the murder.

A Cook County judge granted Maxson a certificate of innocence.

His $54 million wrongful-conviction lawsuit against the city and police accuses detectives working for disgraced Cmdr. Jon Burge of coercing him into confessing. Burge was fired over torture allegations brought by defendants in numerous criminal cases. He later was sentenced to prison for lying about the claims in a civil case.

On Wednesday, Judge Robert Gettleman ruled Maxson’s lawsuit could continue toward trial, overruling most of the city’s arguments to dismiss the case. The judge chided the city’s lawyers for engaging in “pure sophistry” by saying they couldn’t discern the arguments made by Maxson’s lawyers Elliot Zinger and Larry Dreyfus.

The lawsuit clearly states police “beat and tortured [Maxson] into confessing to a crime that they knew he did not commit, falsely testifying at the motion to suppress hearing, and then using the confession to obtain plaintiff’s conviction,” Gettleman wrote. The city’s “more substantive attacks on the complaint fare no better,” the judge said, buthe did dismiss Maxson’s claim that the officers gave false testimony.

Wallace Bradley, a supporter of Maxson, called the decision “marvelous.”

“I don’t see why the city of Chicago would continue to waste taxpayer dollars fighting this case,” he said.

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