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$1.25 Million Settlement for Chicago Man Coerced into Confessing to Rape and Murder

by Christopher Zoukis

Harold Hill, who was coerced into confessing to a rape and murder, and freed from prison when DNA evidence exonerated him nearly 13 years later, settled with the Chicago Police Department for $1,250,000. Attorney's fees accounted for $750,000 of the settlement amount.

In March 1992, Hill, who was 18 at the time, confessed to a rape and murder that took place in 1990. According to Hill, investigating officers Kenneth Boudreau and John Halloran slapped him, struck him in the ribs, and yelled at him. He claimed that he was subjected to physical and mental stress until he felt compelled to admit to crimes that he knew he didn't commit. His counsel later argued that because Hill was facing felony charges for armed robbery at the time, the police knew he was vulnerable.
In January 2005, results of DNA testing verified that Hill was not involved with the rape and murder, and he was subsequently granted a new trial. The state's attorney, however, decided not to retry him, so he was released from prison.
Hill filed a complaint against the city of Chicago; Chicago police Officers Boudreau, Halloran, James O'Brien, Jon Burge, Andrew Christopherson, Daniel McWeeny, Michael Kill, William Moser and John Paladino; and Assistant State Attorney Michael Rogers.
He accused them of forcing a confession and violating his civil rights. Prior to trial, accusations against Burge were dismissed; Rogers agreed to a settlement; and Officers O'Brien, Christopherson, McWeeny, Kill, Moser and Paladino were granted summary judgment.
Hill argued that, besides the physical and mental abuse that led to the forced confession, his time in prison made him consider suicide on multiple occasions. He also alleged suffering from missing out on the childhoods of his daughter and son, who were infants when he went to prison.
Boudreau and Halloran denied using any coercion, or mental or physical abuse during the interrogation. They said Hill was treated with decency and allowed to use the restroom.
About a week before the scheduled trial date, the parties agreed on a settlement of $1.25 million. Hill was allotted $500,000 of it, with the remaining $750,000 designated for attorney's fees. Hill was represented by Chicago, Illinois attorneys Arthur R. Loevy, Michael I. Kanovitz, Jon Loevy, and Russell Ainsworth of Loevy & Loevy.
See: Hill v. City of Chicago, et al., United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, Case No. 2006-C-6772 (Oct. 4, 2011)

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Related legal case

Hill v. City of Chicago, et al.