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Another Failing Grade For A Chicago Journalist...

Once again, a Medill School of Journalism graduate fails the litmus test for basic journalism.

This time it is Heather Cherone of DNA Info, who graduated from Medill.

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Cherone wrote a September 12 article about the FOP’s opposition to the new curriculum the Chicago Public Schools created about Jon Burge, the former Chicago Police Commander accused of torturing suspects and convicted in 2010 for perjury and obstruction of justice. The FOP has demanded that the CPS address evidence that at least some of the accusations against Burge may be false and that one case in particular--the one that led to Burge’s conviction--is also, as the police say, “dirty.”

That case is the 1987 arson that took place on Chicago’s on Chicago’s south side and left seven people dead. The man convicted of setting the fire, Madison Hobley, was sent to death row, but was pardoned by Governor George Ryan shortly before Ryan himself was indicted on 22 counts of corruption. Hobley never convinced a judge, prosecutor, or jury that he was innocent. Nevertheless, he walked out of death row and was eventually awarded millions.

The FOP argued in a letter to CPS CEO head Janice Jackson that it would be fair for the CPS Burge curriculum to include information that the governor may have released a mass murderer in Hobley. The Burge connection to Hobley is that Burge was charged with making a false statement in Hobley’s civil case in answers to interrogatories. 

Apparently, this strikes some journalists as odd.

But, like so many Chicago journalists, Cherone’s bias against the police is immediately apparent in two crucial ways.

First, Cherone does not even have the basic facts straight. It is clear she knows little if anything about the Hobley case and is not going to dig into it.

Take this paragraph about the Hobley case as an example:

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During his trial, testimony by the officers that Hobley confessed made up the heart of the case against him, although his admission of guilt was not documented by officers, according to court records.

 What an absolutely ludicrous statement.

The evidence against Hobley was overwhelming, apart from his confession. Consider a few examples.

  • Several weeks before the arson, Hobley threatened arson against his wife and child on the telephone; threats that were overheard by a Chicago Police Officer who described them in a criminal case report. When investigating detectives learned of these documented arson threats, their conviction that Hobley was the offender was confirmed. What would be the chances, after all, that Hobley would make threats of committing arson against his own wife and child and then they just happen to die weeks later of a fire set outside their apartment set by someone else? Revealingly, the officer who documented these threats he heard over the phone has never been contacted by a Chicago reporter in the three decades since the arson was committed. Not once.

 

  • Gasoline was poured outside and on Hobley’s apartment door, then down the stairwell, as if the occupants inside were targeted. When firefighters arrived on scene, the front doors were locked, suggesting that whoever had poured the gasoline and set the fire had keys to the building.

 

  • Hobley’s claims of escaping the fire while his wife and child remained inside their apartment completely defied the forensic evidence. The heat from the fire was so intense, fire investigators said, that Hobley would have been turned into ash. Hobley never provided a plausible explanation for how he escaped the fire while his wife and child didn’t, nor did many other residents in the building.

 

  • Hobley changed his story again and again.
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  • A key witness contacted police officers and told them he was at the gas station near the fire and observed Hobley approach on foot and purchase the gas, then walk back in the direction of the fire. The witness testified that he later saw Hobley at the scene of the fire and observed Hobley in the same clothes.

 

  • Another witness, the owner of the gas station, also told police he saw a man purchase the gasoline. He said he was almost certain it was Hobley.

 

  • Numerous witnesses said that Hobley was wearing different clothes at the scene of the fire than what he later turned over to detectives. Witnesses also said that Hobley never went to the area below his own apartment window to see if his own wife and child could escape.

 

  • Hobley failed a lie detector test. 
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  • Hobley told detectives that his mother advised him to take a bath after the arson at his mother’s house. He then gave the officers clothes he said he was wearing at the time of the incident but which numerous witnesses said he wasn’t.

Cherone’s egregious bias reveals itself in another way. In pushing their anti-police bias upon the public, Cherone and other Chicago journalists merely ignore the mounting evidence that their mythology about police misconduct is full of holes, that many of their claims are simply false.

Cherone ignores the fact, for example, that her alma mater, Northwestern University is embroiled in a $40 million federal lawsuit alleging a pattern of misconduct against the university, its employees, and students in several wrongful conviction cases, all based on claims of police misconduct. The lawsuit, filed by attorneys representing Alstory Simon, who was released from prison in 2014, alleges that a former Northwestern professor, David Protess, and private investigator Paul Ciolino, knowingly framed Simon in order to secure the release of Anthony Porter from death row in 1999.

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From their lawsuit:

As part of a Northwestern University Investigative Journalism class he taught in 1998, Protess instructed his students to investigate Porter’s case and develop evidence of Porter’s innocence, rather than to search for the truth. During that investigation, Northwestern, through its employees and/or agents Protess and Ciolino, intentionally manufactured false witness statements against Simon and then used the fabricated evidence, along with terrifying threats and other illegal and deceitful tactics, to coerce a knowingly false confession from Simon.

But not a word from Cherone about this. Here’s another fact about the Porter case that is illuminating: In the three decades since the murders took place, not one journalist in Chicago has ever contacted the investigating detectives to hear their side of the story.

And it gets worse. Attorneys for Simon allege a pattern of such conduct. Here is what the attorneys said in a letter to former Cook County Prosecutor Anita Alvarez about the key witness in the Hobley case—the one who said he saw Hobley purchase the gas and walk about toward his apartment shortly before the fire:

The key prosecution witness, Andre Council has testified Ciolino came to his home with Hobley’s lawyer and told him if he recanted, Ciolino would ensure his daughter received a free college education, and that he would never need to work again.

More and more evidence arises that the Jon Burge era of supposed police corruption also looks like an era of media corruption. 

If readers ever get the full set of facts, they can decide what Cherone’s article about the Hobley case and Burge amounts to.

All the FOP wants is the opportunity to tell their side to the students. And that is obviously very troubling to Chicago’s reporters like Cherone. Very troubling, indeed. 

FOP Reps Take Issues With New School Curriculum To CPS...

After not receiving a response from CEO Janice Jackson or anyone else from the Chicago Public Schools about Fraternal Order of Police opposition to the new Jon Burge curriculum in Chicago schools, FOP members brought the issue to the CPS themselves.

Vice presidents Pat Murray and Martin Preib, along with Field Rep Bob Bartlett headed over the CPS headquarters on Thursday morning at the State and Madison and passed out this flier:

FOP To Sun Times: Cease and Desist

The FOP has become aware that reporters from the Sun Times have been approaching department members at their homes. The FOP has sent the following letter to the newspaper demanding that they cease this practice. If any reporters attempt to make contact with a FOP member at their home, please immediately contact us and notify the department. Members are supposed to steer all media inquiries to the department. Tell the Sun Times reporter to leave your property and call 911 if they refuse. 

Report Attacks Commission In The Wake Of Police Killer Case

As trial of notorious police killer Jackie Wilson approaches, report claims state agency that gave him new trial may not be legal.

Chicago (September 5 , 2017)—A controversial state commission that has broad authority to overturn felony convictions on the claims of police misconduct may be unconstitutional, a new legal report declares.

The Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC), which has been under fire by family members of murder victims, a prosecutor, and a former governor, may violate the Illinois constitution in its influence over the judicial system and the arbitrary manner in which it is employed.

The report comes at the request of Martin Preib, Second Vice President of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 7 in Chicago, who hired the Loop law firm Cameli Hoag to render an opinion as to whether the firm believed the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (Act 775 ILCS 40/1) violates the State Constitution.

The report also comes as several key TIRC cases are taking shape in the criminal courts that could lead to the release of more convicted killers, including the notorious Jackie Wilson case. Wilson, along with his now deceased brother Andrew Wilson, was convicted of the 1982 murders of officers William Fahey and Richard O’Brien during a month-long period that saw five officers gunned down, four fatally. TIRC has breathed new life into Jackie Wilson’s hopes of being set free based on the claim that he was abused after being arrested by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and his men.

Burge and his men were sued twice civilly in federal court for abusing the Wilson brothers. In both trials, the anti-police law firm People’s Law Office failed to garner a verdict against Burge or his men.

Now, through TIRC, the release of Wilson would be the crowning achievement of the wrongful conviction movement.

In a scholarly, well-researched ten-page opinion dated Sept. 1, 2017, Cameli Hoag concluded in part that “We believe a reasonable argument can be made that the TIRC violates the Illinois Constitution…We fundamentally disagree” with opposing counsels who, taking an entirely opposite view on this question, contended the Act is not unconstitutional. 

The Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission, or TIRC, was formed by the Illinois General Assembly in 2009 initially to investigate claims of torture by Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge or officers under his command. Under the law, TIRC was mandated to examine claims of tortured confessions and determine whether sufficient evidence of torture existed to merit judicial review.

The Cameli Hoag opinion, authored by attorney Thomas N. Osran, raises the question of whether the constitutionality of the TIRC Act should be challenged because it allows an unelected, executive-branch agency to effectively order a new round of evidentiary hearings for convicted criminals whose remedies have been exhausted in the courts.  

“We are heartened by Mr. Osran’s analysis,” said Mr. Preib who is the FOP’s Second Vice President during the organization’s recent elections. “We believe this legal opinion is a first step in a journey to demonstrate that TIRC is not only unconstitutional, it is part of an anti-Chicago police crusade.”

Attorney Osran cites a number of reasons why in his opinion the Torture Relief Commission is out of the bounds of the Illinois State Constitution. Among them:

  • ·The TIRC Commission is mandated to “make recommendations” to the courts, yet to date, those courts have held hearings based on every single case that has been recommended to them by TIRC;
  • A reasonable argument can be made that TIRC is unconstitutional under two separate areas of the Illinois Constitution. Namely, TIRC could be in violation of the separation of powers doctrine and victims’ provisions rights;
  • TIRC may violate the State Constitution’s prohibition on “special legislation” because the Commission singles out Cook County convicted defendants alone.

“The most troubling aspect of this statute,” notes Mr. Osran, “is the way it mistreats victims. TIRC could be found to violate the State Constitution’s ‘Crime Victim Rights’ provisions because it allows for closed hearings of the TIRC, where the victim is required to request 10 days in advance for the right to attend its hearing, in contrast to the Illinois Constitution, which gives the right to tall victims to be present at all court proceedings without any kind of preapproval. There have already been complains from victims about a failure to notify them of TIRC proceedings.”

 

FOP President Graham Response To Consent Decree

Chicago, IL, August 29, 2017“The decision to put the Chicago Police Department in a consent decree is a potential catastrophe for Chicago.

Already facing an explosion of crime because the police have been so handcuffed from doing their job by the intense anti-police movement in the city, this consent decree will only handcuff the police even further.

Despite the biased media in Chicago, which refuses to address the corruption in the anti-police movement and the evidence of chronic false allegations against the police--allegations that have created an industry out of suing police officers--the members of the CPD are doing a tremendous job considering the caustic and challenging environment in which they have been placed.

If anyone has any doubt about what could take place in Chicago under this decree, they only need take a look at what happened in Baltimore. According to media reports, the homicide rate in Baltimore has increased 50 percent in the last six years ago.

Just yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated at the National FOP Convention that he is opposed to consent decrees.

We have worked hard in the last four months of our administration to work with the city and are extremely disappointed by the decision to pursue this route. We will gather with our legal team to consider our options.”

 

FOP Statement On New CPS Curriculum

Chicago, IL, August 28, 2017– This is the FOP statement about the CPS implementing the new curriculum on Jon Burge:

The FOP and its members finds any coercion of a witness or a suspect repugnant. With this in mind, the FOP believes that a thorough review of these cases is appropriate due to the increasing evidence of misconduct in the wrongful conviction movement.

That evidence includes the strong possibility that some wrongful conviction claims are false and some may even be fraudulent. The evidence of false affidavits, obtained through chicanery and bribery, is particularly troubling.

The media and political establishment needs to investigate these claims with the same intensity they pursue allegations of police coercion.

Indeed, it is important to note that the case upon which Jon Burge was convicted was an arson from 1987 in which seven people died, including two children. The convicted offender, Madison Hobley, was never able to convince a judge or prosecutor of his innocence, but he was nevertheless pardoned by former Governor George Ryan in 2003, shortly before Ryan himself was convicted on corruption charges and sent to prison.

Until the full review of the wrongful conviction movement is completed, the FOP does not believe the Burge mythology should be codified into public school curriculum.

 

"Fake News" Media Coverage of Police In Chicago?

Don’t journalists at the Tribune have an ethical and professional obligation to investigate the suspicious reporting of one of their own reporters before they cite his questionable conclusions in their own reporting? Isn’t this the very least the Tribune should do, given their almost weekly articles claiming a “code of silence” among the police?

Read More

Lodge Contests Extension Of Units

President Kevin Graham announced today that the Lodge will oppose the department’s decision to extend two temporary units.

Graham said that the extension of the Summer Mobile Patrol and the Summer Deployment by the department is a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The department announced the extension of the Summer Mobile Patrol by one day, and the extension of the Summer Deployment from 19 August 2017 to 9 September 2017.

The FOP’s position is that both programs had specific end dates when the orders came out. An extension for the term of the detail constitutes a new detail.

“We expect that the Officers currently listed on BOP #17-0189 will be paid time and one- half per the parameters of that same contract section,” the FOP said in a letter to Management and Labor Affairs. “We will encourage them to submit overtime slips for each day that they are improperly assigned. We will encourage them to file individual grievances if the overtime requests are denied.”