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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.”