It was 2001 and attorneys in the City of Chicago’s Corporation Counsel office, charged with representing police officers in police misconduct and other cases, were faced with a crucial decision.
Should the city defend detectives accused of framing Anthony Porter for a 1982 double murder or should they settle? A Corporation Counsel team of attorneys reviewed the facts of the case and the decision by then Cook County State’s Attorney Dick Devine to release Porter from prison in 1999 and accept the confession of another man, Alstory Simon, for the same 1982 twin homicides. Their review of the case generated a memo with bombshell conclusions.
The memo charges that the decision by Cook County State’s Attorney Devine was “political.”
From the Washington Times:
But it says prosecutors decided the case “should be put to rest” partly because of negative publicity over the death penalty. It also said there still was compelling evidence against Porter, but the state’s attorney’s office was comfortable releasing Porter because he served some prison time.
Attorney Kimberly E. Brown, who was on the team, told the newspaper that she couldn’t recall why she and other attorneys thought the decision was political, but said “all the evidence lined up against Anthony Porter,” and the circumstances leading to Porter’s release and Simon’s prosecution “seemed very, very fishy.”
Eventually, the city’s Corporation Counsel punted. They farmed the civil lawsuit against the detectives to a private attorney. This attorney also argued that Porter was guilty. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury declined to award Porter and his attorneys a single penny.
But the memo reveals something crucial to understanding the mechanics and magnitude of Chicago’s corruption. It reveals that city attorneys sensed all the way back in 2001 that wrongful conviction cases based on claims of police misconduct were fraudulent. Despite these conclusions about the Porter case by the city attorneys, the city never really did anything about it.
In fact, just two years later when one of the most corrupt governors in the state’s history released four men on similar claims of police abuse, the city remained not only silent, but also wrote them checks. One of the men was Madison Hobley, convicted of setting a fire that killed seven people, including two children—one of them his own infant son. In freeing the four men, Governor Ryan cited the Porter case as a primary motivation to do so—the same exoneration that city attorneys admitted in a memo they didn’t believe was warranted.
The Corporation Counsel’s refusal to give life to their suspicions about the legitimacy of the Porter case in 2001, then their decision to write massive checks to other exonerees, stands as one of the greatest abuses of justice in the history of Cook County’s criminal justice system. Since 2001, when the Corporation Counsel could have taken action to end the false allegations of police misconduct, accusing the police has become Chicago’s most lucrative cottage industry, on its way to perhaps a billion dollars for the so-called wrongfully convicted and their attorneys.
But it wasn’t just the Corporation Counsel who failed to do their duty. Even earlier than 2001, the media had evidence that many exoneration claims were nonsense. But the media not only ignored the evidence that they were false—they then attacked those who tried to tell them the claims were fabricated.
Prosecutors letting offenders out for “political” reasons? The media ignoring the facts of the cases and attacking those who dared point out these facts, then the city attorneys’ approving massive payoffs: this is the very skeleton of Chicago’s crooked soul.
Since 2001, these groups have worked in tandem to push ludicrous claims that convicted rapists and killers are actually innocent. A perfect example is Sun-Times reporter Andy Grimm’s coverage of the exoneration of Nevest Coleman, who was once convicted of brutally raping and murdering a woman.
Wrongful conviction lawyers are claiming that Nevest Coleman and Darryl Fulton are innocent of the vicious 1994 rape and murder of a twenty-year-old woman, Antwinica Bridgeman, because new DNA tests from the victim not available at the time of the crime point to another person, a serial rapist.
This, says Grimm in his articles, makes the case a wrongful conviction. The location of the body, witness statements, and the confessions of the offenders all weigh heavily toward the men being guilty. True to form, the Cook County State’s Attorney dropped charges against Coleman last year and did not challenge the certificate of innocence, which Coleman won last week.
Here’s a crucial fact that never found its way into Grimm’s public relations piece posing as journalism: Nicole Harris, exonerated for the murder of her own child in 1998, was also awarded a certificate of innocence. But in a rare instance of the city taking the case to trial, Harris’s attorneys were trounced. Attorneys for the detective argued that Harris did, in fact, kill her child. And they won on every count.
So will the city’s Corporation Counsel, led by Ed Siskel, approve a massive settlement rather than take the Coleman case to trial? Well, as if to just make sure that they do, Grimm obediently wrote another PR piece for Coleman informing the public that Coleman has been hired by the Chicago White Sox to get his old job back as a groundskeeper.
What a transformation for Coleman. It’s eerily similar to Anthony Porter being paid by Northwestern to give speeches at the university after he was exonerated. Will the announcers give Coleman an introduction before the first game? Will he tip his hat to the crowd? Will he get a standing ovation?
Why stop there?
Why not put Anthony Porter at third base? Madison Hobley at second? Why not put once-convicted rapist Stanley Wrice in center field?
And Andy Grimm?
He could be the batboy.