Will Foxx and Her Allies Bankrupt City?
Release of Inmate at Behest of Northwestern Ominous Sign of Chaos to Come?
Disregarding the evidence of tainted exonerations going back decades and one of her own prosecutors accused of bizarre misconduct, Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx has racked up yet another suspicious exoneration that appears to benefit her ideological allies.
Last month a judge quietly granted a certificate of innocence to Marcel Brown, a year after his conviction was tossed and he was released from prison at the behest of attorneys from Northwestern University Law School, Karen Daniel and Locke Bowman. Shortly thereafter, Bowman filed a federal civil rights lawsuit accusing Chicago police detectives and an assistant Cook County prosecutor of misconduct in Brown’s arrest and conviction.
Brown’s release adds to a growing number of suspicious exonerations during Foxx’s administration that seem to benefit attorneys and activists who supported her election campaign and what the FOP calls her intensely anti-police platform. These exonerations, including Brown’s, will cost the city millions to litigate and perhaps tens of millions more to settle, particularly since the attorneys who file these suits against the city also enjoy the support of Chicago’s activist media.
The FOP has requested a federal investigation of the Foxx administration over Foxx’s decision to release inmates whose cases benefit law firms who supported her political campaign. These exonerations, particularly the ones connected to retired detective Reynaldo Guevara, contradicted Foxx’s predecessor, Anita Alvarez, who maintained the legitimacy of the “Guevara” convictions.
The Guevara cases have already cost the city millions and will likely cost much more.
But the release of Brown and the granting of a certificate of innocence is particularly troubling and ominous for both the city and its police officers for a host of reasons.
One is the fact that it comes from Northwestern University. Just a few years ago, the university settled a massive lawsuit alleging it had turned a blind eye to a pattern and practice of certain misconduct in wrongful conviction cases, including obtaining false witness recantations in cases spanning decades. Those same allegations have arisen in other lawsuits as well.
Consider one of the claims in the Brown case. From a MacArthur Justice Center article:
Daniel said in the Center’s process of further investigating, they also found witnesses that “told a very different story” than what was revealed in the trial.
Is that right? Such a claim from Northwestern lawyers should set off alarms in the prosecutor’s office. It is important to note that the FOP has repeatedly requested that Foxx investigate Northwestern’s wrongful conviction tactics based on the claims of wrongdoing at the university.
Another reason the Brown case is troubling is the granting of a certificate of innocence. Granting a certificate of innocence imposes a massive legal burden on the city in litigating the federal civil rights lawsuit. It is difficult for the city to contest a lawsuit when the courts have already declared the individual innocent, even when opposing counsel and law enforcement contend that the offenders are guilty. Both the FOP and the city have begun fighting these certificates when they believe the individual is guilty.
But what about Foxx in the Brown case? Did Foxx contest this certificate of innocence? Why or why not? Did her staff interview detectives who worked the case and are now accused of misconduct? Did she hear their side of the story? Did she interview her own prosecutor, Michelle Spizzirri, who is also accused in Brown’s lawsuit? If Foxx didn’t, add sirens to the alarms.
After all, some of the allegations against Spizzirri are bizarre. The Northwestern attorneys for Brown, for example, allege that Spizzirri and the detectives knowingly prevented Brown’s attorney from talking to Brown.
From the MacArthur Justice Center article:
CPD detectives, working in concert with a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney, turned [Brown’s] . . . lawyer away, falsely telling him that Marcel did not want to speak with an attorney—a plain violation of the Illinois constitution.
A prosecutor and detectives together turned away a suspect’s attorney?
Foxx has already dumped several highly suspicious exoneration cases on the city that will cost millions. Her intense anti-police policies have undermined police morale. Her “restorative justice” platform is putting more criminals back on the street. Her administration poses an ominous threat to the financial and public safety well-being of the city.
For all these reasons, Mayor Lightfoot should be alarmed at Foxx’s willingness to accept claims of wrongful conviction arising from Northwestern University, and her administration should be digging into the Foxx administration’s role in granting the certificate of innocence.
The FOP certainly is.