Chicago’s police union is condemning Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx for her role in another exoneration, and the awarding of a Certificate of Innocence in the same case, to a man convicted of a violent crime.
Serial exonerations of violent criminals under Foxx, says FOP spokesman Martin Preib, benefit only attorneys, enriching themselves in follow-up civil actions against the city, and anti-police activists who supported Foxx’s election.
“These exonerations … 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,” Preib wrote in the FOP blog, The Watch.
In the recent case, Foxx’s office dropped all charges against Marcel Brown, 29, last July a month after a judge vacated his 2011 conviction for his role in the murder of 19-year-old Paris Jackson in a West Side park. In June of this year, the Circuit Court awarded Brown a Certificate of Innocence, a declaration that Brown should never have been arrested for the crime in the first place. Two weeks later, Brown’s lawyers, including Locke Bowman of the MacArthur Justice Center out of the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, filed a federal civil rights action against the city of Chicago and Cook County (Brown is from Oak Park). The suit alleges that the Chicago Police coerced Brown’s confession and conspired with a prosecutor to denied him access to a lawyer – a charge repeated by Foxx’s office.
“The court ruled that the Chicago Police Department denied Brown access to his lawyer while Brown was in custody,” Foxx’s office said in a statement to Chicago City Wire. “In light of the court’s ruling suppressing this crucial evidence, we could not meet our burden of proof and the case was dismissed on July 18, 2018.”
The statement also said that Preib’s take on the case in The Watch was a “false narrative” and a “misleading and unproductive tactic.”
Preib called allegations that the cops and prosecutor would turn away a suspect’s attorney “bizarre” and said that the city and the courts should be suspicious of claims surrounding wrongful conviction allegations coming out of Northwestern.
Just last year, Northwestern and a former professor there David Protess, founder of the Medill Innocence Project, settled a case brought by Alstory Simon, who served nearly 15 years in prison for murder. Simon claimed that he was coerced into confessing and pleading guilty to murder as a result of an investigation by a class of Northwestern journalism students. Simon’s confession freed Anthony Porter, who had been sentenced to death for the crime.
The Simon case wasn’t the only questionable one under Protess’s watch at Northwestern. One involving investigations into the conviction of Anthony McKinney for murder led to Protess’s ouster from the school. McKinney was arrested in 1978 for the murder of a security guard in Harvey. He died in prison in 2013 at the age of 53.
“He [Protess] left the school in 2011 amid controversy over tactics allegedly employed by his students during an investigation into the murder conviction of Anthony McKinney,” the Chicago Tribune reported in June 2018, “including lying about their identities and flirting with witnesses. Amid pressure from the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, university officials concluded Protess had misled them about what information he’d shared with McKinney’s attorneys — accusations that Protess called ‘entirely disingenuous.’”
Preib said the upcoming civil case of another exonerated violent offender, Stanley Wrice, would shed more light on the investigatory tactics employed at Northwestern. Wrice was convicted in 1982 for rape and torture and sentenced to 100 years. He was freed in 2013.
In 2014, Circuit Court Judge Thomas Byrne rejected Wrice’s petition for a COI – finding his claims in the face of overwhelming evidence “absurd.”
During the discovery phase of the lawsuit, a woman testified that when she was 14, Wrice beat and raped her. She claimed her first three children were the result of rapes by Wrice.
“Byrne cast suspicion on witness recantations in the case,” Preib wrote in a June 7 posting in The Watch, “pointing out that the witnesses steadfastly fingered Wrice for the crime for decades, changing their story only after a visit from students working with former Northwestern professor David Protess, who has been under fire for a litany of similar accusations of false witness recantations.”