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Top Chicago lawyer resigns over Anjanette Young raid

Mark Flessner, who served as corporation counsel for the city, sent an email to the law department Sunday announcing his resignation.

Anjanette Young, who was a victim of a botched raid by the Chicago Police Department in 2019, speaks outside the Chicago Police Department headquarters Wednesday. Top Chicago lawyer, Mark Flessner, resigned Sunday over the controversy.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Chicago’s top lawyer, Mark Flessner, has resigned over the Anjanette Young raid.

Flessner sent law department employees a brief email announcing his resignation, the mayor’s office confirmed.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot leaves City Hall with Corporation Counsel Mark Flessner.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot walks out of City Hall with Corporation Counsel Mark Flessner (left) in October 2019. Flessner resigned Sunday amid controversy over the botched raid of Anjanette Young’s home.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file photo

In a statement issued Sunday afternoon, Lightfoot said she accepted Flessner’s resignation “effective immediately” and said she was committed to a “full review of everything that occurred surrounding this incident, will take corrective action where appropriate, and will hold people accountable.”

In February 2019, Chicago police wrongly raided Young’s home on the Near West Side. It wasn't until earlier this month that the botched raid came to light, when Lightfoot’s law department attempted to block CBS Channel 2 from airing body camera footage that shows a naked and handcuffed Young telling officers more than 40 times they had the wrong home.

The city sought sanctions against Young’s lawyer last week but took back the request Friday following the controversy over the video’s release. Young previously tried to obtain the footage herself through the Freedom of Information Act but was denied.

Originally, Lightfoot said she wasn’t aware of the botched raid on Young’s house, but on Thursday, the mayor acknowledged she was informed of the raid more than a year ago.

Lightfoot told WVON 1690 AM Friday morning she sent a note to every single lawyer in the city’s law department telling them they must never lose sight of the fact that Young, a resident of Chicago, felt she had been harmed by the government.

“You are ambassadors of our values as a city,” Lightfoot said she wrote to the law department. “If you lose sight of those things, I need your resignation now. I intend to follow through on that.”

The mayor had previously worked with Flessner at the U.S. attorney’s office for Northern Illinois. Lightfoot stood by Flessner earlier in her term, when it became public that Flessner had claimed two primary residences — one in Chicago and another in Naperville — and incorrectly received homestead tax exemptions for both.

Last week, Lightfoot said her voice was hoarse from having read the riot act to Flessner, whose office put Lightfoot in a politically untenable position by seeking to prevent CBS from airing the footage. Asked Thursday why she hadn’t yet fired Flessner, Lightfoot said she hadn’t ruled it out.

Flessner was most recently a partner at Holland & Knight LLP in Chicago.

Contributing: Fran Spielman