I would never argue that the Blago trial isn’t a big friggin’ deal. Of course it is. But is it bigger than the Burge trial? Think about it – in one you have a governor accused of trading political favors for campaign cash, in the other you have a former Chicago police commander accused of perjuring himself about allegations that he (and his so-called Midnight Crew) systematically and sadistically coerced confessions out of criminal suspects, some of whom ended up on Death Row.

If you agree with Steve Rhodes*, John Conroy’s 2006 who’s-who breakdown is a good start, and it jumps off to more of Conroy’s reporting from our police torture archive (Conroy’s blogging the trial at Vocalo, part of the station’s increasingly awesome lineup of bloggers).

* I tend to, though of course I’m somewhat biased given the importance of the story within the Reader over the years. The Burge trial is destined to get less coverage than Blago, in part because the story itself is older, in part because the charges are tangential to the actual offense, but beyond its obvious importance to the city, I think the Burge trial is related to torture creep in America. Indeed, the cover story in the most recent Chicago Reporter is about lawsuits over taser use in a downstate jail that rents beds to Cook County’s system.

If you want to read more outstanding alt-weekly reporting on torture and police malfeasance, Phoenix New Times‘s ongoing coverage of notorious Maricopa County sheriff Joe Arpaio rivals Conroy’s Burge reportage in detail and importance.