The Watch

News and Information for Chicago FOP members.

Will Supreme Court Slap Down Ludicrous Appeals Court Ruling?

Wouldn’t be the first time a ruling by Judge Hyman was rejected by a higher court without even hearing arguments

The Illinois Supreme Court has the authority to overturn an appeals court decision without hearing briefs. 

When the Supreme Court does so, it is a cold slap in the face to the appeals court judges who made the ruling, a sign that the justices in the highest court of the state believe the appeals court was self-evidently wrong. 

There is a strong possibility that Supreme Court judges may take similar action in the wake of a bizarre lower court ruling involving the police and probable cause. 

The ruling by the Illinois Appeals Court declared that officers cannot arrest someone on an investigative alert, a standard procedure in which detectives advise officers that detectives want to interview someone about a crime. The court ruled the police need a warrant issued by a judge. The ruling threatens to undermine the entire notion of probable cause, claiming that probable cause can only be obtained by officers with firsthand knowledge of the crime and not imputed by his fellow officers. 

The Cook County State’s Attorney is expected to appeal the ruling to the Illinois Supreme Court. 

If the appeal were to stand, it would effectively undermine detectives in their investigations. It also threatens to undermine convictions throughout the state by providing convicted offenders with a legal basis to challenge their convictions. Is there any doubt that Chicago’s powerful anti-police law firms that score millions of dollars claiming police misconduct and constitutional violations aren’t drooling at such a prospect? 

One media outlet that is likely thrilled by the appeals court ruling is Injustice Watch, a publication that claims it is engaged in journalism. One of its top dogs is former Northwestern University Law professor Rob Warden. 

Warden is a leading figure in the wrongful conviction movement. He has somehow avoided being tainted by scandals that have erupted at Northwestern University while he was working at the school, including accusations that another former professor, David Protess with whom Warden has worked closely, obtained fraudulent witness recantations and framed an innocent man to get the real offender out of custody. 

Warden’s ability to avoid any scrutiny at Northwestern, especially on exoneration cases in which he worked with Protess, is possibly a testament to the lack of fairness and credibility of the Chicago media. 

In any case, after retiring from Northwestern, Warden launched the publication Injustice Watch, which carries on his wrongful conviction, anti-police message. Indeed, Warden has elevated his game, using Injustice Watch “investigations” to attack not just police officers and detectives, but judges who don’t toe his party line. Injustice Watch, for example, was a key player in attacks on two judges, Matthew Coghlan and Maura Slattery Boyle, in the last elections. These judges had refused to rule in favor of wrongful conviction claims. 

Warden is also a former commissioner on the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC), which, the FOP has argued, is completely unconstitutional because it grants the power to arbitrarily resurrect long-settled convictions and toss them back into the courts. Resembling more of a kangaroo court in some banana republic, TIRC acts as little more than a kind of ATM machine for civil rights law firms in the city building pattern and practice claims against highly respected detectives. TIRC does so with little more than innuendo and highly questionable claims from convicted killers who stand to garner their freedom, then pocket millions of dollars in civil settlements. 

Warden’s Injustice Watch attacks on judges has succeeded as it has against the police. In an unprecedented move, Coghlan—who is widely respected by his peers, members of law enforcement, seasoned prosecutors, and defense attorneys—was voted off the bench. Boyle narrowly escaped their attack and remained. 

With Warden’s successful campaign against the judges, cops, and now the bizarre ruling by the appeals court all but outlawing basic police work, it’s been a good year for the anti-police zealots. 

But there is a compelling subplot to the story of the appeals court ruling, one not mentioned in the mainstream media. The case is expected to be appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court. 

One of the appeals court judges, Michael Hyman, has had his rulings rejected by the court before.

In 2017, a decision in the case of the People v. Horton in which officers spotted a man with a gun in his waistband and pursued him into his home, where they recovered the gun and arrested the man, was tossed on Fourth Amendment claims. The Supreme Court overturned Hyman’s decision without even considering arguments on it. That’s a cold slap in the face for an appeals court judge. 

And quite possibly what could, and should, take place in Hyman’s ruling in the investigative alerts and probable cause case. 

Whether Rob Warden or Injustice Watch like it or not.