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"Perjury Trap" Taking Shape in Key Exoneration Bids?

The decision by Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx to compel the testimony of a retired Chicago police detective in a wrongful conviction case may signal an ominous policy change from her predecessor.

Kimberly Foxx is reportedly moving to compel retired Chicago Police detective Ray Guevera to testify in a case in which he is accused of abuse in a 1998 murder case against two suspects Gabriel Solache and Arturo DeLeon-Reyes.

From a May 20 Sun Times article written by Andy Grimm:

“Cook County prosecutors want a judge to force former Chicago Police detective Reynaldo Guevara to testify about allegations he beat confessions out of two men now serving time for a 1998 murder.

Guevara, who has been named in more than a dozen lawsuits alleging he routinely framed suspects during his three decades as a gang unit detective in the Humboldt Park area, has refused an offer of immunity from state and federal prosecutors, according to a motion filed Thursday by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

Guevara’s name has surfaced in numerous wrongful conviction cases, but the veteran detective has declined to answer questions under oath since 2009.”

If compelled to testify and prosecutors believe the testimony of Guevara’s accusers over the accused officer himself, Guevara could be charged with perjury, a charge that would certainly bolster further allegations against him.

The Sun Times again:

“Guevara still could be charged if other evidence surfaces, or if he lies on the stand.”

Lie on the stand? Who will prosecutors believe, Guevara or the convicted men seeking their release, Gabriel Solache and Arturo DeLeon-Reyes, both serving life terms?

Foxx’s strategy against Guevara could pave the way for Guevara’s accusers in multiple cases to mount a pattern and practice claim of misconduct—potentially reaping in millions of dollars from federal civil rights lawsuits—Foxx’s administration appears to be ignoring the mounting evidence of a pattern of generating false affidavits and attempts to obtain false affidavits by some of Guevara’s accusers.

Some observers are concerned that Foxx is laying a kind of “perjury trap” for Guevara.

From the Sun Times article:

“(Guevara) might not have done anything wrong, but he still (has) a legitimate concern if he gets up and says he didn’t do anything wrong, and (prosecutors) line up nine people who say, ‘No, he tortured me,’” [Attorney Terry] Ekl said.'

Two accusers of Guevara, for example, among the “more than a dozen lawsuits alleging he routinely framed suspects during his three decades as a gang unit detective in the Humboldt Park area,” are David Protess, a once iconic now disgraced former Northwestern journalism professor, and Northwestern University.

Both are defendants in a massive $40 million lawsuit brought by Alstory Simon. He and his attorneys claim he was framed by defendants Protess and a private investigator, Paul Ciolino, for a 1982 double murder in a scheme by them to get Anthony Porter out of death row and end the death penalty in Illinois.

In the lawsuit, attorneys allege a pattern of misconduct by Protess while he was teaching his class at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. The suit alleges that Protess, who founded Medill’s Innocence Project in 1999, engaged in an array of misconduct extending back decades that included obtaining false affidavits and may have led to at least one wrongful exoneration.

The allegations in the lawsuit are now in the discovery phase that has included taking the deposition of former Cook County State’s Attorney Dick Devine last week. Yet this benchmark episode received no mention—not even a sentence in Grimm’s article for the Sun Times.

Indeed, as the Foxx administration has pressed forward against Guevara, not one media outlet in Chicago has mentioned the accusations of misconduct in wrongful conviction cases taking shape in the federal courts. In the minds of many police and prosecutors, that omission is an egregious sign of bias by the local media in favor of wrongful conviction claims and against police and prosecutors.

Also hidden in Grimm’s story are the compelling signs that Foxx’s decision to compel Guevara to testify stand in stark contrast to her predecessor’s tactics. Prosecutors under Anita Alvarez, Foxx’s predecessor, for example, backed up Guevara in key cases.

Again from Grimm’s article:

“Local prosecutors have defended Guevara in the past, claiming that witnesses have recanted testimony in his cases not because the detective intimidated them into lying, but because gang members threatened them into changing their stories.”