by Whet Moser
Accused arsonist Madison Hobley spent over a decade on death row, convicted of setting a fire that killed seven people, before being pardoned by George Ryan in 1993. Hobley, who claimed that infamous former cop Jon Burge tortured him into confessing, filed a wrongful-conviction suit and settled--as part of a controversial, complex, secretive, and expensive settlement involving other alleged victims, which included terms to protect Mayor Daley--with the city for $1 million up front, with another $6.5 million due if the feds didn't bring an indictment by January 3 in a new investigation.
It's Hobley's lawsuit during which, as you may recall, Jon Burge is accused of lying about torture, allowing the federal government to bring him to trial despite the fact that the alleged torture is covered by the statue of limitations. In October of 2008, Michael Miner tried to puzzle out why Patrick Fitzgerald would bother opening an investigation into Hobley's alleged arson--the investigation that just came to naught--asking: "Did Fitzgerald reopen the arson case in order to know all there is to know about it, so Burge can't blindside him at trial with some sort of evidence discrediting the plaintiff in the suit that brought about Burge's alleged perjury?"
In 2000, John Conroy told Hobley's story, beginning with a great first sentence: "Madison Hobley is on death row because he had an affair."