Crooked City

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Torture Commission Victory a Catastrophe For Chicago Cops?

Court Ruling Frees Another Convicted Killer, Gives New Life to Tainted Torture Commission...

An appeals court decision that prompted the release of yet another convicted killer two weeks ago could be a catastrophe for members of the Chicago police department.

The court overturned the conviction of Shawn Whirl for the 1990 murder and robbery of a cab driver. Whirl claimed he had been tortured into confessing by a detective who had worked with former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge. A special prosecutor declined to retry the case, so Whirl went free. 

The appeals court decision reversed a ruling last year by a circuit court judge, who rejected Whirl’s claims, saying they were baseless. 

Whirl’s release is another sign that convicted killers can garner their release merely by claiming they were abused by a detective who once worked with Jon Burge, a former commander who has become the poster child for the wrongful conviction movement’s claims of torture. 

What makes the Whirl case so threatening to Chicago Police Officers is the crucial role played by the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC) in securing Whirl’s freedom. 


The case took a circuitous path through the courts. After losing his initial appeals, the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC), created to investigate abuse allegations against Burge and detectives under his supervision, found Whirl's claims credible in 2012. The commission held that Whirl had consistently alleged torture and that his allegations were "strikingly similar" to those of other Burge victims.

What is TIRC? Ostensibly, it is supposed to investigate torture claims against former commander Jon Burge and his men. But since its inception, the actions and integrity of the commission have been called into question. Now a long body of evidence paints a clearer picture of TIRC’s real purpose. 

The creation of TIRC in 2009 was one of the greatest accomplishments of wrongful conviction law firms like the People’s Law Office (PLO). It was an extension of the PLO’s war on the police extending back to the early 1960s.  Their clients include numerous domestic terrorists engaged in bombings and other violent “revolutionary” campaigns, including the murder of police officers. 

More and more, TIRC reveals itself as an arm of the wrongful conviction movement, employing the kind of legal “end-around” the criminal justice system common to these activists in their campaign to overturn legitimate convictions and vilify cops.   

For many years, this end-around the criminal justice system by these activists and lawyers was accomplished through intense media pressure, as wrongful conviction activists found key allies among the city journalists and editors. This pressure intimidated prosecutors, judges, and politicians into doing the bidding of law firms like the PLO, which claimed many Chicago cops were racist, violent criminals protected by a sympathetic police department hierarchy. 

But with the creation of a state commission, comprised almost exclusively of their own advocates, the wrongful conviction law firms are no longer on the outside pushing their cause. Now, with TIRC, they are a powerful force within the criminal justice system itself. 

It was the kind of power radicals like the People’s Law Office and their terrorist clients and allies could only dream about in the 1960s. 

The bias built into TIRC was apparent from the outset to the family members of murder victims. 

Joe Heinrich’s sister was raped and murdered in 1983 by brothers Jerry and Reginald Mahaffey during a home invasion on the far north side. His brother-in-law was also murdered and his nephew was severely beaten and left for dead by the Mahaffeys. Here is what Heinrich observed about the corruption inherent in the commission. Heinrich confronted the commission on this bias:

Before being appointed to this Board, many commissioners were already involved in Burge-related issues and have already decided that any person interrogated by him or those under him should go free.  Some commissioners have written articles, some have added their support and names to court documents favoring the defendants, one founded an organization to investigate and sue police officers, and another runs an organization that has investigated many of the cases this commission has and will consider.  Just last Friday, Governor Quinnannounced that he wants to add a defense attorney who works for a law firm that has been involved in Burge-related court proceedings and a priest who has been arrested and sued police officers.

The bias Heinrich observes reveals itself clearly in their “investigations.” Remember the claims by TIRC in arguing that Whirl should be released, their observance that his claims were part of a larger pattern of abuse by Burge and his men? 

The commission held that Whirl had consistently alleged torture and that his allegations were "strikingly similar” to those of other Burge victims.

Well, this penetrating ability to spot patterns of potential criminal behavior and other misconduct is strikingly absent among TIRC members when it comes to their own movement, a pattern now well established in the media and courts. 

Consider, for example, who Whirl’s attorney is, Tara Thompson. Thompson is a wrongful conviction crusader with the notorious law firm Loevy and Loevy. According to court transcripts, Thompson worked on another wrongful conviction bid that floundered in the courts just a year ago. It fell apart because a judge ruled that a witness, Willie Johnson, brought forth by Thompson’s law firm, was lying under oath in an attempt to free two killers serving life sentences. After the judge stated he thought the witness was a not telling the truth, Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez charged Johnson with perjury. 


A 43-year-old Texas man was sentenced Tuesday to 30 months in prison for lying on the witness stand about a 1992 double murder in Chicago… 

“My office does not take the decision to charge perjury lightly and this charge is brought in very limited circumstances and only when it is appropriate to do so.  We believe this was certainly the case in this particular matter and we are very pleased with today’s plea of guilty by this defendant,” Alvarez said in a prepared statement.

In the past four years, Johnson is the only person to be charged with perjury for recanting testimony in a post-conviction hearing in Cook County, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

Witnesses trying to free double murderers convicted of perjury? 

One wonders what would happen if a detective got busted bringing forth a witness who later pled guilty to committing perjury. TIRC and every other wrongful conviction law firm in the city would begin poring over every single case that detective was involved in. 

Another glaring example of commission members failing to observe central patterns of corruption in their own movement is Rob Warden, retired director of Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions. Warden’s longtime colleague, David Protess, former professor at Northwestern, and Protess’ sidekick private investigator, Paul Ciolino, have amassed a chilling body of evidence of corruption, spanning several cases over long period of time. 

A central theme emerging in Protess and Ciolino’s cases at Northwestern is evidence that the two men attempted to bribe witnesses into changing their testimony. 

Well, remember Whirl’s lawyer, Tara Thompson? Remember how she worked with a group of lawyers who brought forth a witness convicted of perjury? 

Thompson’s law firm of Loevy and Loevy was also a key player in one of the biggest exonerations in the state’s history, the exoneration of Madison Hobley for a 1987 arson that killed seven, including Hobley’s own son and wife. Hobley’s exoneration was the work of Loevy and Loevy attorney Ken Feuer and DePaul University Law Professor Andrea Lyon. 

One thing that made Hobley’s conviction for the seven murders airtight were the statements of key witnesses. Two of those witnesses told authorities that they saw Hobley arrive at a gas station near Hobley’s house shortly before the arson. They saw Hobley fill a gas can and walk back in the direction of Hobley’s apartment that would soon catch fire.

Arson investigators concluded the fire was started by gasoline poured outside Hobley’s apartment and then down the stairs. Hobley admitted to the detectives that he bought this gas from this station, just as the witnesses stated. 

Hobley’s attorneys—remember, one of them was Loevy and Loevy attorney Kurt Feuer—fought for years to claim that Hobley was innocent, that he had been—drum roll, please—tortured by detectives. 

To do so, Feuer and Lyon concocted a fairy tale that the detectives, before the evidence was all in, decided to pin the murders on a guy who had just lost his own wife and child in the fire. Not only did the detectives arbitrarily decide to frame Hobley, a man they had never met, but according to Hobley’s attorney’s theory, everyone involved in the investigation went along with it. The detectives did this not knowing whether new evidence would come forward that could uncover their plot. 

The Loevy and Loevy fairy tale that Hobley was innocent never went anywhere in court. Indeed, some judges along the way ridiculed this fairy tale. 

But Hobley’s attorneys, having seen once airtight cases like the Porter conviction unravel in the machinations of their wrongful conviction spin machine, pressed on. 

The witnesses who watched Hobley buy the gas threw a fly in the ointment. It was hard to overcome such compelling statements. Remember, in the last two years, unequivocal evidence of obtaining false statements, even bribed statements, has revealed itself in the Porter case under David Protess and his private investigator Paul Ciolino, and then there is the fact that a witness brought forth in the Willie Johnson case was convicted of perjury.

Well, one day Paul Ciolino and one of the attorneys representing Hobley, Andrea Lyon, paid a visit to the home of one of these the key witnesses, Andre Council. 

Council had told investigators he observed Hobley at the gas station putting the gas into a gas can. Council even had words with Hobley after Hobley spilled gas on Council’s truck. Council told investigators that he saw Hobley walk away. A short time later, Council saw the fire trucks speeding down the street. Council walked over to the site of the fire. There, he observed Hobley in the crowd.

The following day, while watching the news, Council saw Hobley on the television named as a suspect, so he called police to tell them about seeing Hobley buy the gas. That’s what an open-and-shut case it was. Hobley confessed to the crime, then witnesses come forward confirming exactly what Hobley said he had done. Their statements and Hobley’s confession matched in great detail. No wonder the jury not only convicted Hobley, but also gave him the death penalty. 

So one day Council is sitting in his home and he gets a visit from attorney Andrea Lyon and private investigator Paul Ciolino, the same Ciolino accused of bribing statements and coercing suspects in the Porter exoneration scandal. 

Here’s Council’s sworn statement describing what Lyon and Ciolino did when they came to his home:  

Q. Okay. And did they -- how did you first come in contact with them (Andrea Lyon and Paul Ciolino)? Did they call you first? Did they come to the house? What do you remember?

A. I remember them coming to the house...

A. …You know, they was telling me that, you know, he didn't do it.

Q. He, meaning who?

A. Madison Hobley. You know, that's the way -- they say Madison Hobley, he wasn't the one who set the fire. The lady [Andrea Lyon] was telling me, you know, that I need to concentrate on looking at him as not being guilty…

A. …My daughter's picture was sitting up there right in front. They was asking me did I have kids, you know…

Q. Who was asking that?

A. Both of them was talking to me about it. And they was talking to me about it.

Q. Asked you if you had kids?

A. Right. Well, my daughter and son look just like me. And so they was asking me, you know, what grade, what grade was they in, how old was my kids, and, you know, was they going to college.I said, Yeah, they -- my daughter is older. And well, she's still older, and they was talking about what she going to college for. I told them I didn't know what was she going to do. And they asked me, you know, how would I like to not work anymore. You know, they said that they have ways they could do it. You know, she said she deal with colleges.

Q. Uh-huh.

A. And he was -- he was telling me the same thing, basically, that they could send my daughter to college and I wouldn't have to pay for it. And I was like

Q. What do you mean, if you changed your testimony?

A. Exactly. They told --they told me, first of all, he's not guilty. I'm like, first of all, you know, I'm saying this to myself, they didn't know Madison Hobley before this case comes up. You know, I could see if they live right next to him or they knew him, but they didn't know anything about him at all. I'm saying this to myself, not to them.

Q. All right. But in terms of that conversation, you're saying they were telling you that if you changed your testimony -- what did they want you to say? Did they tell you what they wanted you to say?

A. They wanted me to say that I didn't -- that I wasn't -- that I wasn't sure, you know, that, you know, you know, she was -- she was writing down, which I never said this before, but I'm going to say it now. She was writing on a sheet of paper the things that I should say.

Bribing witnesses? Change your testimony and we’ll send your daughter to school? 

Remember, some of these activists in the wrongful conviction movement worked with terrorist bombers who went around preaching revolution and killing police officers. Some of their close friends, members of the Weather Underground, bombed the home of a judge while he and his family were inside. The family was only saved by the heroic actions of their neighbors. The connection between PLO and violent radicals continues to this day. Even as recently as 2011, several youths who were caught making incendiary devices were represented by the law firm. Investigators stated that the youths planned on throwing the fire bombs at the police during the NATO demonstrations.  

In the face of these crimes, is gathering bribed statements as a means of getting back at the “pigs” whom they hate so much such a stretch? 

All of this brings us back to the ruling last week that freed Whirl. 

Was Whirl tortured into confessing, as he claims, or did activists push through another wrongful conviction scam, as they did in the Johnson case, the Porter case, the Hobley case? Is Whirl another killer walking the streets of Chicago free as a bird? 

And all of this brings us back to why the Whirl case is so much more dangerous to the police than the many other exonerations spearheaded by the wrongful conviction activists. 

Whirl’s release from prison breathes new life into TIRC, one that will increase their power within the criminal justice system and certainly embolden them to push more and more cases. Now that one of their cases has won, the precedent is now set for the organization to overcome its former scandals and grave misconduct, the evidence of their own duplicity and fraudulence, and vilify a whole new generation of police officers. Wrongful conviction cheerleaders disguised as journalists like Steve Mills, Eric Zorn, John Conroy and a host of others can now crank out stories about the police torturing people by quoting the “findings” of a state commission.  

With each case TIRC overturns on the argument that the detective “once worked with Jon Burge,” they open up a whole market of exonerations and lawsuits for their allies in the wrongful conviction movement. 

They’ve come a long way since the bomb-throwing days of the 1960s, finally seeing their “Marxist revolution” taking shape. 

And as they destroy the career and reputation of one cop after another, other inmates arrested by these detectives will make the same claims. Soon TIRC members will be free from the shackles of only considering the Burge cases. They will establish new villains in the police department, upon whom they can hang the mantle of corruption that has profited them so handsomely and bought them untold power from a political system that has always been for sale. The lawsuits that will follow will fill the coffers of their political allies while the journalists supporting them bask in the glory of more exonerations. 

No cop, no matter how honestly he attempts to investigate his cases, will be immune from their machinations.  

Only one thing stands in their way now: The Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents cops. But that is hardly even a nuisance. The current FOP administration, headed by President Dean Angelo, has shown time and again the union will not take on the wrongful conviction machine, no matter how much evidence arises that they are crooked and that they are victimizing FOP members.  

In the wake of the Whirl ruling, a Chicago cop can be certain of only two things. He can be accused of any crimes, no matter how ludicrous, and his union will do little if anything about it.  

That’s just the reality of patrolling the most Crooked City. 

Martin Preib is a Chicago Police Officer and writer. His first book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City, was published by the University of Chicago Press. His second book, Crooked City, is available on Amazon. His articles have appeared in Playboy, The Chicagoan, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, and New City. He is currently working on his third book about former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and an arson in 1987, titled Burn Patterns. 




What Can The Caucus Do?

The rumors started about four days before the actual event. 

But no one, not even the police officers who were shot that night, believed them. 

Besides, it was an impossible level of corruption, even for Chicago and Illinois. 

But the rumors kept flying, from more and more sources. The officers started to get nervous. 

Could the inmate in prison, Howard Morgan, who shot three police officers in 2005 during a traffic stop actually be set free by Governor Quinn right as the governor left office? And could the governor do so without even providing a piece of evidence in the case justifying his decision?

It wasn’t possible.

The officers had figured the ordeal was finally over, though there were still rumblings in the media repeating ludicrous theories that the four officers somehow conspired to rob or execute Morgan. 

But Morgan had been convicted on four counts of attempted murder in his second trial, nine years after he pulled out his pistol and fired at the officers 15 times, wounding three.  

Those nine years had been a nightmare for the four cops, as a merging of media, religious groups and activists, mostly within the African American community, unleashed a vicious campaign to smear the cops, poison the jury, and pressure prosecutors and judges. A documentary and statements from supporters of Morgan claimed that the cops were racist executioners. Journalists stepped forward, making the most outlandish claims without any evidence. 

It worked, at first. The first trial ended up with a hung jury, as the lawyer for Morgan played the race card against the officers. But by the second trial, prosecutors were ready for anything, including the regular disruptions in the gallery of the trial by supporters of Morgan. Morgan was found guilty on all four counts of attempted murder. 

One of the officers who was shot that night said this in a victim statement: 

The night I crossed your path I was only doing what I have done a thousand times before.  Then you made a choice...  You shot me, Mr. Morgan.  I don't think we will ever know how you came to that choice, but you have shown me what type of person you are in the events following that night.

What is so reprehensible, Mr. Morgan, is you have shown no remorse or even an ounce of accountability in regards to your actions and choices that night.  In fact, you have done exactly the opposite.  You have attempted to lead, and you have allowed people of our community to believe you did nothing wrong.  You have attempted to hide behind the racial fears of our community, and manipulated organizations into believing that Police corruption was the cause of me being shot that night.  The very idea goes beyond reason.   You preyed upon fears and emotions, hoping to serve your own selfish agenda.  In doing so, you have further damaged the trust between our community and the Police.  But, you couldn't hide from the facts, and the truth of this case.  You are a fraud, Mr. Morgan... that's also the truth. 

Morgan was sentenced to 40 years. During the final hearing before being sent to prison, Jessie Jackson, perhaps the most familiar face when one thinks of an activist black caucus in Chicago, showed up and testified about what a great guy Morgan was and that he should be set free on bond pending his appeals. Then Jackson arrogantly and insolently walked over to the officers and stuck out his hand, taunting them. Ever the professionals, the officers shook his hand, despite the fact that members of his constituency had accused them of the worst crimes imaginable, without any evidence.  

And after the conviction, all Morgan’s appeals failed. 

Then the rumors about Quinn commuting the sentence of Morgan started spinning. 

The FOP, the union that represents the officers, knew nothing about it. In fact, so irrelevant has the Dean Angelo administration become in city affairs that no one at Quinn’s office even bothered to notify the union what was about to take place. No heads up was given. No one in the union fielded the rumors and began preparing a statement about what a grave injustice such a decision would be. And then after Quinn made the decision, no press conference was convened by Angelo to condemn it, to call for an investigation. Angelo did not call on the mayor and superintendent to condemn it. There was no guest column in the papers, not even a letter to the editor. 

And so Morgan was set free, the complex media and political campaign by a slew of African American activists and organizations in the city, culminating in a visit by Jesse Jackson himself, undermining an open-and-shut case and conviction of quadruple attempted murder of four Chicago police officers. 

The entire affair is a testament to the vast power the consortium ofpolitical, religious and media reps hold in the city, one intimately tied to the black caucus, for this consortium arose almost exclusively from the African American wards represented by the caucus. Their seemingly invisible hands were somehow able to pull strings all the way up to the governor’s office and free a man who shot three cops. It was an impressive display of power.

Another impressive display of power in the African American community took place last week during a hearing in which members of the black caucus grilled Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. The grilling took place one day after caucus members announced they wanted McCarthy fired in the wake increased violence around the city, particularly in their own neighborhoods. 

“What else can you tell me we can do?” Alderman Carrie Austin shouted at McCarthy during the hearing. “Don't tell me about no legislation. We don't control them. What we control is here."

But Austin asked the question, and perhaps it’s time someone answered her. 

The caucus can do a lot. First, it can explain what happened in the Morgan case, and then it can help undo it.

After all, these four officers were engaged in exactly the kind of patrol the caucus was demanding in their neighborhoods from Superintendent McCarthy at the recent hearing. 

The officers were responding to what they believed were gunshots when they encountered Morgan’s van driving away from the direction of the shots without his headlights on and driving the wrong direction on a one-way street.  

If the caucus is so concerned about police getting better control of crime patrolling in their neighborhoods, why didn’t they speak up for these cops when their own people were vilifying them? Why did they leave the cops hung out to dry? 

The release of Morgan was less than a year ago. Nevertheless, the caucus comes forward and demands more accountability from the police. But, in the wake of the Morgan scandal, isn’t it the caucus that needs to demonstrate some accountability? 

Not necessarily. 

In Chicago, factions that gain a certain level of political power are immune from the requirements not only of integrity, but even any consistency. This is why the constituents of the caucus can be advocating the freeing of a police shooter one day, then calling on the police for more accountability and asking “What can we do?” the next day. 

It raises the question as to whether the caucus is really concerned about public safety in their districts or just engaged in a political power play against the police. 

But the question was asked by Alderman Austin, and it should be answered. 

What can the caucus do?  

The caucus could get to the bottom of the religious institutions that immediately organized behind Morgan and helped him obtain bond, when he should have been awaiting trial in the county jail. It could ask how the freeing of Morgan and their support of his case, despite all the evidence he was guilty, was an expression of some religious sentiments, and how such actions would increase the trust and cooperation between the police and the members of their own community. 

It would also be great if the caucus could confront several prominentjournalists who wrote about the case. 

One in particular would be Sun Times columnist Mary Mitchell, a columnist whose writings are more PR memos for the black caucus and its constituents than actual journalism, a columnist whose willingness to vilify Chicago police officers on flimsy claims of racism with little or no evidence is unparalleled. True to form in the Morgan case, Mitchell unleashed one falsehood after another in her coverage of the case, including, incredibly, claiming the Morgan case was Chicago’s own Trayvon Martin case. 

At a time when the shooting in Florida of Trayvon Martin is drawing supporters from across the country, Chicago has its own shooting scandal.

What shooting scandal? The Morgan incident was reviewed time and again and shown that it was obviously justified, based on the evidence. 

One wonders: Did Trayvon Martin fire a pistol 15 times at four cops from a distance of a few feet? 

One aspect of the Morgan shooting never mentioned by Mitchell and many other journalists was the fact that two of the cops pulled Morgan over for traffic violations. Two other cops from another unit joined them. How did these four cops, who didn’t even know each other, hatch a plan to execute Morgan, or rob him, in the few seconds before the shooting began? 

And then why did the cops cease firing when Morgan ran out of bullets? If they shot him 18 times for no legal reason, what’s one more shot that would kill him and eliminate him from telling authorities what they did to him? 

And finally, how did all the cops come up with an identical story in the seconds after the shooting when three of them lay wounded and were taken to different hospitals? How was it that their trumped-up story held up to all the forensic evidence?

Mitchell’s entire column is one of the most crooked pieces ever to appear in a Chicago newspaper. If she were truly concerned about public safety, particularly for her own people, she would be grateful to have such courageous, disciplined cops patrolling their neighborhood. Instead, she tosses them onto the dung heap of race baiting and scaremongering as if they were nothing but pawns in a larger, far more sinister plot. 

So what can the caucus do, Alderman Austin? 

The caucus could call Mitchell to a hearing and have her go through a thorough grilling on the evidence of the Morgan case, and then have her explain her column. Then, if the caucus concludes that Morgan is guilty the way the jury did, the caucus should demand that she be fired. 

And what are the chances of that happening? 

And then there is the governor himself. If only the caucus would call Quinn to a hearing and have him explain the evidence of clear backroom dealing that took place in his decision to release Morgan.  

If one were truly interested in forging a working relationship with the police to combat crime and protect the innocent members of their districts, that might be a good starting point. 

Who knows what could come of it? Maybe in the end Howard Morgan would be back in prison serving the 40-year sentence he so justly deserves.

Now that would be an impressive display of power in the Crooked City. 

Martin Preib is a Chicago Police Officer and writer. His first book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City, was published by the University of Chicago Press. His second book, Crooked City, is available on Amazon. His articles have appeared in Playboy, The Chicagoan, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, and New City. He is currently working on his third book about former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and an arson in 1987, titled Burn Patterns. 

Prosecutors Get Pass in Key Wrongful Conviction Case?

It was an incident captured on video that devastated the image of the Chicago Police around the world, a drunken, irate, off-duty police officer, Anthony Abbate, brutally attacking a defenseless female bartender, Karolina Obrycka. 

It took place in 2007. Abbate was charged and found guilty of Aggravated Battery, and sentenced to probation. He was also fired, the superintendent assailing Abbate’s conduct in media events. 

A theory emerged in the lawsuit that was difficult for many Chicago cops to digest. It was the claim that the department somehow had gone to bat for the officer, that there was a coverup to try and protect him, a “code of silence.” 

It was so difficult to digest because most cops were furious about the attack, as disgusted as any member of the public. 

Nevertheless, the “code of silence” claim became central in the bartender’s federal lawsuit against not only Abbate, but also against the City of Chicago.  Obrycka’s lawyer, Terry Ekl, went after the city as well as Abbate based on the argument that Abbate attacked Obrycka because he enjoyed “an air of impunity” because he was a cop. 

From the Tribune:

At the center of the trial was the allegation that a long-standing code of silence protects officers who use excessive force or engage in other misconduct. As a result, Obrycka's lawyers maintained that Abbate acted with impunity in the bar because he was unafraid of consequences.

For such a legal claim against the city to go to trial is rare. Obrycka's lawyers waged a five-year legal fight. The city at no point offered her a settlement, calling the case a matter of "principle" in part because Abbate was off-duty at the time of the beating.

"She's been through a lot, and a lot of people would have caved in under the pressure of what she had to go through," said her attorney Terry Ekl, who embraced his client after the verdict was announced.

With the jury's favorable verdict, Ekl said, the city also will have to pay substantial legal fees racked up by Obrycka's lawyers over the legal fight, but he maintained far more was at stake than money. The verdict sent a strong message about how the Police Department is run, he said.

"This is putting the Chicago Police Department right on the front burner for everyone to take a look at," he said. "But for that (video), Anthony Abbate would still be a police officer today. If it became Karolina's word against Anthony Abbate ... this case would have gone nowhere."

Would it? Would the agencies that investigate police misconduct have given Abbate a pass without the video? Would the police department have backed Abbate up if they believed he had in fact brutalized the bartender just because he was a cop? That’s a powerful prediction by Ekl, and a stunning condemnation of the police department.  

As it is, a jury clearly bought Ekl’s arguments about the police “code of silence,” awarding his client a large settlement. It’s a case cops talk about among themselves to this day. 

Times have changed.  

Another high-profile case now asks some of the same questions about a “code of silence” among attorneys, especially prosecutors and former prosecutors, including Ekl. Only this case is more than a shocking, despicable battery against a woman by an off-duty cop in a bar. 

This one involves a brutal double murder and the complete breakdown of the entire criminal justice system in the state of Illinois. 

At the very time Ekl was working the Abbate case, he was representing Alstory Simon, a man coerced into confessing to a double murder he did not commit. Simon’s confession, obtained by a private investigator, Paul Ciolino, working with Northwestern University professor David Protess and several students, paved the way for Anthony Porter to be released from prison in 1999. Simon’s confession was the key piece of evidence that allowed Porter to go free. 

Porter’s exoneration was central to the wrongful conviction movement in Chicago and initiated several other equally suspicious exonerations. It also compelled then governor George Ryan to end the death penalty. 

After Simon was sent to prison, he began claiming he made the confession because Ciolino threatened him with violence. Ciolino, Simon claimed, offered two choices: conviction for the murders and a possible death penalty, or go along with Coliolino’s plan, confess, and get out in a few years. Furthermore, if Simon played ball, he would also make money through movie and book deals. Boxed in, Simon grudgingly made the confession because of Ciolino’s threats against him. 

But then something unforeseen took place. A top prosecutor, Thomas Epach, knew the evidence in the original Porter murders backward and forward. He was certain Porter was guilty and he didn’t believe Simon’s confession. He told his boss, Dick Devine, as much, but Devine went ahead and let Porter out of prison. Devine also took Simon into custody. 

Furious, Epach initiated a grand jury investigation into the murders. He sent underling Thomas Gainer into this grand jury with instructions to get to the bottom of the case. Gainer did so. 

One after another, Gainer called Protess, Ciolino, and the students to the stand, reviewing in detail their “investigation” into the murders. From the outset, their “investigation” fell apart, an image emerged of students being blindly led around by a professor and private investigator whose conduct and motives, were, at best, questionable, at worst, criminal.

As one example of how ludicrous the Northwestern “investigation” was, Protess and his students admitted they hadn’t even talked to four of six witnesses in the case. 

And why not, the prosecutor asked. 

Well, we were too busy with our other classes, one of the students said. 

With all this testimony and evidence that the Northwestern case was a fraud, Epach tried to get Devine to retry Porter and not proceed with a criminal case against Simon. But even with the grand jury evidence, Devine wouldn’t budge. The reason is that Devine was facing a media deluge in support of Northwestern’s claims by reporters willing to parrot Northwestern’s claims without checking any facts. 

Devine told Gainer, the same prosecutor who led the grand jury, to go into court and accept a confession from Simon. Simon did not know about the grand jury evidence that exonerated him or the fact that a top prosecutor was arguing for his innocence. 

Gainer went ahead and took the confession, even though there was a mountain of evidence exculpating Simon. 

It was a complete breakdown of the justice system and the worst betrayal of ethics by a prosecutor imaginable. 

Another group victimized by Devine and Gainer’s refusal to adhere to the evidence was the Chicago Police Department. The Northwestern theory claiming Porter was innocent was based in large part on the fraudulent claim that the detectives framed Porter. 

This theory became the foundation of Porter’s lawsuit against the detectives after he was set free. A six-year campaign by Porter’s lawyers vilified these detectives in the media and the courtroom. The detectives won the case in court, and Porter got nothing. But the damage had already been done. The Porter exoneration spurred other fraudulent exonerations that also falsely vilified the police. In most of those cases, the city settled, the lawyers become rich on false exonerations. 

Only in the Crooked City. 

In fact, the machinations of Northwestern in the Porter case spurred much of the anti-police hysteria now sweeping the country. 

As it was, Simon languished in prison for more than a decade. A group of people looking closely at the evidence began fighting for Simon to be released from prison. They pressed their case with the current prosecutor, Anita Alvarez, who took over the office after Devine left. 

Faced with so much evidence of corruption in the case, Alvarez released Simon from prison last year, the central case in the wrongful conviction mythology now completely obliterated. 

But, tellingly, Alvarez would not declare Simon innocent. She only pointed to the corrupt tactics of Protess and Ciolino in getting a confession from Simon as justification for Simon’s release. It was an incredible turn of events that the chief prosecutor in the county, after a yearlong review of the case, held up her hands in confusion and said she couldn’t be sure who truly committed the murders. 

The reason becomes painfully clear. If Alvarez did admit Simon was innocent, it would point a finger at her predecessor, Dick Devine, and admit that the prosecutor’s office was involved in a major scandal. It would also point an ominous finger at her own administration for not delving into the corruption of the Simon case years earlier. 

So Alvarez got up in front of the media on the day she released Simon and made the incredible claim that her office could find no wrongdoing on the part of Devine’s office.  

Alvarez’s declaration that Gainer and Devine did nothing wrong was an incredible favor to the two men. 

Alvarez wasn’t the only one. Right after Alvarez let Simon out of prison, Ekl and his colleagues on the case immediately filed a $40 million lawsuit against Northwestern, Protess, Ciolino, and an attorney Ciolino and Protess had obtained to represent Simon when he confessed. 

But Ekl did not name in the lawsuit the prosecutors in the case, Devine and Gainer. 

In short, Ekl ignored the overwhelming evidence that Devine and Gainer were co-conspirators in the framing of Simon, along with Protess, Ciolino, and Northwestern. 

To this day, Ekl refuses to acknowledge the prosecutor’s central role in the Simon travesty, not only in his lawsuit, but in his frequent statements to the media. Instead, he focuses only on the Northwestern investigators. Furthermore, Ekl refuses to acknowledge the clearly suspicious claims by Alvarez that her predecessors Devine and Gainer were innocent of any wrongdoing. 

Ekl, himself a former prosecutor, gives not only Devine and Gainer an incredible pass, but also Anita Alvarez, when he doesn’t attack her suspicious claims that she still can’t decide who committed the original murders.   

Some of Ekl’s claims about the police department now haunt his own “representation” of his client Alstory Simon.

"Officers routinely cover up the misconduct of other officers," Ekl told the Chicago courtroom. "We call it a `code of silence. ... Misconduct without consequences."

Rather than condemn the prosecutors’ role in destroying the life of his client (and the lives of all the detectives who originally fingered Porter) Ekl raises none of these issues in either his lawsuit or in his media statements. He also lets Alvarez get away with claiming there was no wrongdoing in the prosecutors’ administration. 

But how can that be? 

How could Alvarez find corruption in the manner by which Protess and Ciolino obtained a confession from Simon in the 1999, but not in the conduct of the prosecutors at the time? Simon was in the county jail for six months waiting for his trial. How come Devine and Gainer could not find the evidence that Alvarez found more than a decade later? It was all right there. After all, there was a prosecutor right in Devine’s office telling him that the case was crooked as hell. 

Ekl ignores all of this evidence that Alvarez is playing politics in the case.  When Alvarez finally released his client, Alstory Simon, from prison last year, Ekl, incredibly, gushes over Alvarez’s decision: 

“We’ve been working for Alstory Simon for 10 years, and for a while, I never thought this day would come,” he said. “But we were increasingly encouraged over the last year, where Anita Alvarez and her staff conducted the reinvestigation of the case; and I just can’t say enough good things about the way her office handled this case, the thoroughness of their investigation. I always sensed they were trying to do the right thing, and come to the right result, and they did that today.”


Here’s what Ekl could have said. 

After more than a decade of presenting our evidence to the prosecutor that our client was wrongful convicted, the state’s attorney finally acted. It is disappointing that it took so long and that Alvarez did so only when she was boxed in by so much evidence. Her refusal to declare my client, Alstory Simon, innocent and Anthony Porter guilty is troubling, given all the evidence of misconduct by Northwestern investigators in this case and others. Equally troubling is her refusal to point out the clear misconduct by her predecessor Dick Devine in this case, whose decision to arrest, indict, and convict my client is one of the greatest abuses of justice by a prosecutor in the state’s history. Alvarez’s refusal to point out Devine’s corruption is not only an abuse of my client’s rights, but a devastating blow to the entire criminal justice system, including the police.  

But Ekl didn’t. He let two generations of prosecutors completely off the hook. There was no pontificating about reforms in the prosecutor’s office, no questions about how they conduct their investigations.

Talk about professional courtesy. Talk about a code of silence. 

This case involved a double homicide. After the Porter case, prosecutors began rolling over on one wrongful conviction case after another. One wonders, would they have done so if Devine and Gainer had stood firm on the Porter case, if they had allowed the case to be guided by the evidence? 

If they had, the wrongful conviction movement might have been dead on its feet all the way back in 1999, and hundreds of cops would not have faced fraudulent accusations of coercing confessions from so-called “innocent” men.

All of this brings us back to Alstory Simon, Ekl’s client. Is Ekl’s unwillingness to point out the magnitude of the corruption in the prosecutor’s office influencing his representation of Simon? 

Well, let’s take a look. 

Whenever an inmate is released from prison on a wrongful conviction claim, his attorneys immediately file a petition for a certificate of innocence (COI). The COI is a declaration by a judge that the individual is innocent of the crime. 

The COI is crucial because it compels the state to pay the former inmate for his wrongful incarceration. For Alstory Simon, this would have amounted to around $200,000.  

Granting the COI also paves the way for the former inmate’s lawsuit, for who could challenge a former inmate’s lawsuit when a judge has declared that former inmate innocent? 

Simon’s petition for a COI seemed a mere formality. 

Ekl appeared at 26th and California in front of Judge Thomas Byrne. In both his petition and his presentation to Byrne, Ekl did not name the misconduct by either Devine or Gainer when they took his client into custody in 1999.  Instead, Ekl, just as he had in his lawsuit, focused his entire petition on the misconduct of Northwestern investigators. 

In an incredible ruling, Judge Byrne admitted that Simon was innocent of the murders, but he wasn’t getting the certificate of innocence. Downplaying the threats of violence, the death penalty, and the trumped-up evidence Ciolino used against Simon to get him to confess, Byrne argued that Simon’s willingness to go along with the confession because Ciolino also promised him wealth and money through movie and book deals made Simon a kind of co-conspirator.  

But the fact that Ekl failed to mention the role of the prosecutors in Simon’s wrongful conviction also seemed to factor into Byrne’s decision: 

…Petitioner’s attempt to recover the from the Court of Claims is not appropriate when his allegation of wrongdoing occurred at the hands of David Protess, Paul Ciolino and the Northwestern School of Journalism. He alleges no wrongdoing on the part of the state

Did Ekl’s unwillingness to finger the prosecutors cost his client the $200,000 from the loss of the COI? Did it hurt his civil lawsuit? 

Ekl’s statement about police corruption in the Abbate case comes to the forefront again: 

"This is putting the Chicago Police Department right on the front burner for everyone to take a look at," he said. 

Now it’s Ekl who’s on the front burner for everyone to take a look at. Now it’s a code of silence that seems to be emerging among attorneys, particularly prosecutors and former prosecutors in a double homicide case, one that devastated the justice system, in particular the police.  

It’s not a pretty picture. 

It forces one to trace many lines of evidence from the Porter murder victims all the way to the highest reaches of the city’s most powerful offices, lines that, taken together form a kind of outline of the Crooked City. 


Martin Preib is a Chicago Police Officer and writer. His first book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City, was published by the University of Chicago Press. His second book, Crooked City, is available on Amazon. His articles have appeared in Playboy, The Chicagoan, Virginia Quarterly Review, Tin House, and New City. He is currently working on his third book about former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge and an arson in 1987, titled Burn Patterns. 

Crooked Journalists Frantic over False Narratives...

In the Chicago Police Department, there is a strict policy against lying under oath or on reports, called “a rule 14 violation.”

It prohibits a cop from “making a false report, written or oral.” 

If a cop is caught doing so, he or she is subject to termination. 

A key reason for firing a cop for a rule 14 violation is the argument that when a cop has been caught lying once, nothing he or she says on the stand can ever be believed again.

All a defense attorney has to do is produce the evidence of this lying and the officer is discredited. 

Among Chicago journalists, no such penalty exists. There is no investigative agency that monitors their conduct, and, when confronted with evidence that they are willfully not telling the truth, they do not have to explain. There is no penalty. 

Journalists in Chicago, therefore, have an unbridled freedom to twist the facts into the service of their own private designs.  

This freedom to deceive by the media is at the core of the wrongful conviction movement. The Chicago Reader’s record of deception on several key wrongful conviction cases goes back decades, but perhaps the most glaring example was published just last week, in an article by Reader veteran writer Mick Dumke, entitled The Trials of Anita Alvarez, an article about the upcoming election for Cook County State’s Attorney. Dumke and the Reader are clearly lobbying heavily for Alvarez to be voted out of office and for their preferred candidate, Kimberly Foxx, to take over.  

Dumke recently switched from the Reader to the Sun Times, but for some reason he wrote this latest article for the Reader. Several reporters from the Better Government Association also worked on the article with him, almost as if Dumke’s article is the concerted effort of many journalists throughout the city. 

In his latest article, Dumke trots out the tired leftist cliches about racism in the criminal justice system and disproportionate rates of incarcerations of blacks.

But taking a close look at Dumke’s article reveals something else is going on. There is a desperation behind the desire for Dumke and the Reader to get Alvarez out of office, apart from the fact that her policies offend the paper’s political philosophy. 

Dumke and the Chicago Reader’s candidate, Kimberly Foxx, is backed by Cook County Board member Toni Preckwinkle.

Taking a close look at Dumke’s article reveals the real reason why so many journalists want Alvarez out of office and Foxx in.  

Chicago journalists are facing a crisis over their coverage of the wrongful conviction movement. Their reports going back decades, in which they argued that murderers supposedly innocent were being released from prison, are slowly falling apart under renewed scrutiny.

The crisis is so deep that Chicago media outlets are engaged in a coverup over their coverage of these stories, refusing to publish evidence of key developments that undermine their reporting and actively vilifying anyone who comes forward to point out their record of getting the stories completely wrong.

Dumke’s shocking article about Alvarez bears all the hallmarks of this coverup, not the least of which is Dumke’s willingness to publish out-and-out falsehoods on a grand scale. 

Here is why. 

In the past few years, Alvarez has grudgingly revealed the corruption at the heart of the wrongful conviction movement. It’s a window into the movement that reveals the greatest corruption in these cases was not the conduct of Chicago Police detectives, as Dumke and his colleagues have alleged for decades. Rather, the real corruption lies with the wrongful conviction zealots and the Chicago media, the two working hand in hand. 

Dumke and the Reader want a prosecutor who will maintain their narrative about the wrongful conviction cases. That candidate would be Preckwinkle’s Kimberly Foxx, for Preckwinkle has unquestioningly supported the anti-police narrative of the wrongful conviction movement. 

To see Dumke’s service in the media coverup of the wrongful conviction scandal, one only has to take a close look at his article about Alvarez.  

Evidence mounted that, in its push to put away criminals during the rising violence of the 80s and 90s, some county prosecutors took politically expedient shortcuts. After a number of flawed murder convictions came to light, then-governor George Ryan put a halt to executions in Illinois. Meanwhile, Daley's lieutenant and successor, Richard Devine, was battered with allegations that his office had failed to investigate evidence of police torture under former commander Jon Burge…

This is perhaps one of the most incredible paragraphs ever written by a Chicago journalist, featuring a jaw-dropping sentence that flies in the face of more than ten years of evidence indicating just the opposite. 

After a number of flawed murder convictions came to light, then-governor George Ryan put a halt to executions in Illinois. 

Every journalist in Chicago knows that this claim no longer holds water. Each week, more evidence arises that these convictions were not flawed at all and that these convicted killers should never have been let out of prison. Dumke and his fellow writers at the Reader have been confronted with this evidence for years. They have chosen to ignore it. 

The most compelling evidence lies in the Anthony Porter exoneration in 1999, the most influential wrongful conviction case in the state’s history and the core case in the wrongful conviction mythology.

Porter was exonerated in 1999 through the efforts of former Northwestern Professor David Protess and his private investigator Paul Ciolino. The men, along with students at Northwestern, came forward with what were later proven fraudulent claims about Porter being innocent of a 1982 double murder. Dumke and his rag, the Chicago Reader, published these claims without checking the facts. In an effort to free Porter, evidence indicates wrongful conviction activists went so far as to bribe witnesses and coerce an innocent man, Alstory Simon, into confessing to the crime. 

Alvarez was the state’s attorney who finally admitted that Northwestern’s “investigation” in the Porter exoneration was crooked. Just last year Alvarez released Alstory Simon from prison, admitting more than a decade after he was imprisoned that Simon’s constitutional rights had been violated by Protess and Ciolino when they fingered Simon—who was not identified by one single witness at the scene of the crime—and that they had coerced him into confessing. 

Earlier this year, a judge also reviewed the case and declared that Simon was innocent of the murders. 

So what is Dumke talking aboutwhen he cites “flawed murder convictions” as if it is a statement of fact? Simon’s release from prison is proof positive that this most central exoneration in the wrongful conviction mythology was anything but a “flawed murder conviction.” 

The clear intent of Dumke’s article is revealed as much in what he writes as what he avoids. Despite the fact that the Porter exoneration is the crucial exoneration in the wrongful conviction mythology and it has now been rejected yet again under the weight of new investigations, Dumke does not give the case one word in his article. He completely ignores it. This would be akin to writing a defense of the Richard Nixon administration by simply ignoring the Watergate burglaries. 

It gets worse. 

Dumke mentions Governor Ryan’s decision to end the death penalty in the face of these “flawed murder convictions.”

Whoa. Wait a minute. 

That’s not exactly accurate. That’s a statement that might have a tough time in a Rule 14 hearing. 

Ryan acknowledged that the motive for this moratorium on the death penalty was rooted in the Porter exoneration, an exoneration now thoroughly discredited by Alvarez, a judge, a grand jury, a civil trial, a criminal trial, witnesses old and new, detectives, private investigators, and attorneys.  

Dumke is asserting an argument about “flawed murder convictions” when Ryan himself admitted he was basing his decision on an exoneration that has now been revealed as little more than a criminal conspiracy. The Porter exoneration reveals itself to be a legitimate conviction more and more each day. 

This is the kind of duplicity, deception, and downright fraud all too common in Chicago journalism. 

Perhaps the reader would be interested to know that the exoneration, upon which Ryan ended the death penalty, has been thoroughly discredited. Perhaps Dumke would do at least this slight service to the truth in his article, just one sentence. 

As it is, Dumke’s claim about“flawed murder convictions” is a measure of just how far Chicago journalists will go to maintain their mythology about these cases, no matter how powerful the evidence to the contrary. They will do so even if it means fighting to get people elected to crucial positions in the criminal justice system as a means of preserving this false narrative. 

That’s particularly bad news for Chicago police officers, already facing the daily threats of working in one of the most violent, gang-infested cities in the country. Dumke’s article is a sign that the media will never give them a fair shake, will never be reasonable in their coverage.  

I got accused of certain things I didn’t do,” says Charles Salvatore, a lead detective in the Porter case. “I got accused of being this ringleader in a great conspiracy to frame Anthony Porter. I got accused of not having probable cause. I got accused of intimidating witnesses and I got accused of physical abuse, and I didn’t do any of this. And I have to ask. If they were making this up in my case, in how many others were they doing it?” 

Perhaps Dumke should have sat down with Salvatore for a little while before Dumke published his fantasy claim about “flawed murder convictions” from Salvatore’s era on the job. Certainly Salvatore could enlighten him about such a claim. But that’s not likely. Since Salvatore successfully defended his investigation of Porter and proved in both a criminal and civil trial that Porter was guilty, not one journalist has ever sat down and asked him about the Porter case, including Dumke.  

That Dumke’s article and his advocacy in favor of Foxx for prosecutor is aimed at covering up corruption by the media in the wrongful conviction movement is also revealed in his refusal to address the most obvious questions arising from Ryan’s stated reasons for ending the death penalty. 

Wouldn’t a legitimate journalist, for example, call Ryan up and ask him how he and his staff didn’t see all the evidence that Porter was guilty and Simon innocent in the face of the Porter exoneration imploding this year? Rather than writing articles insisting that convictions were flawed, wouldn’t a legitimate journalist ask Ryan why he let Porter out in the face of all the un-refuted evidence of Porter’s guilt that was on the record at the very time Ryan pardoned Porter, evidence that compelled Alvarez to release Simon and a judge to declare Simon innocent? 

Once again, it gets worse. 

In his public relations piece posing as journalism, Dumke does slightly mention some wrongdoing by Protess in his article, but in a manner and substance that only adds to what seems to be clearly calculated deceit. 

Protess is now named by Alstory Simon’s attorneys in a $40-million lawsuit. In the lawsuit, Simon’s attorneys cite a pattern of potentially criminal conduct by Protess in his wrongful conviction crusade throughout several cases spanning many years.

Dumke, who ignored in his article Protess’ role as the architect of the Porter conspiracy, also wholly ignores this evidence of other misconduct, and all the while prattles on about “flawed murder cases” by police and prosecutors and suggests Alvarez has been too “skeptical” of these wrongful conviction cases. 

Instead, Dumke refers to one small aspect of another scandal Protess was involved in, the case that led to Protess’ exit from Northwestern, the McKinney case. 

McKinney was another convicted killer Protess was trying to spring from prison. Dumke’s writing on this subject is nothing less than chilling. 

In the McKinney case, the misconduct by Protess was discovered after Anita Alvarez and her staff smelled a rat. Alvarez subpoened a wide array of evidence in this case, including the Northwestern records and emails of students working on the case with Protess. 

Journalists were furious at Alvarez for demanding these records, saying it was a violation of their privacy and their rights as reporters. Dumke taps into this outrage in his article.   

In a 2012 interview, Alvarez said, "We tore those cases apart to see if there was any truth to them. I think it was unfortunate that it was portrayed as me going after the students." 

Well, there are a few telling details omitted by Dumke about this subpoena that cast even more suspicion on the substance and intent of his article.   

Alvarez smelled a rat in Protess’ claims about the case because her investigation unearthed statements from witnesses that contradicted statements Northwestern was claiming these witnesses made. It was yet another sign that wrongful conviction activists may be manufacturing false narratives. When Alvarez subpoened the records, it was the first time in decades that a prosecutor stood up to Protess, Northwestern, and the wrongful conviction movement.

Sure enough, Alvarez hit pay dirt. 

The lawyer for Northwestern—not Alvarez—discovered that Protess was committing some potentially serious misconduct in his investigation. The lawyer discovered that not only was Protess lying about the case, but that Protess had also altered evidence that he had submitted to the school in response to Alvarez’s subpoena. In other words, Alvarez’s subpoena, which Dumke implies is overaggressive, unearthed shocking evidence of corruption against Protess. 

Rather than criticizing Alvarez for being too aggressive, too skeptical of wrongful conviction claims, shouldn’t Dumke and the Reader be patting Alvarez on the back for potentially preventing yet another killer returned to the streets, like Anthony Porter? 

Don’t bet on it. In the sick, twisted world of wrongful conviction journalists, undermining a wrongful conviction case is, in and of itself, a sin by a prosecutor, even when the prosecutor uncovers corruption and imposes justice. 

Here is what Dumke is truly arguing: How dare Alvarez question Northwestern, Protess, and the Reader…How dare a prosecutor question these self-appointed guardians of truth? 

After the school’s lawyer rushed to a hearing and told the judge that he was unwittingly given false evidence by Protess, Northwestern was compelled to conduct an internal investigation of Protess. What the school found was rumored to be chilling and undeniable: There was a shocking level of dishonesty at the very heart of wrongful conviction claims, a dishonesty Dumke and his self-aggrandizing colleagues never once uncovered. 

Doubt it? 

Consider this statement the school released, not Alvarez, not the cops, but Northwestern itself, when they fired Protess.   

In sum, Protess knowingly misrepresented the facts and his actions to the University, its attorneys and the dean of Medill on many documented occasions. He also misrepresented facts about these matters to students, alumni, the media and the public. He caused the University to take on what turned out to be an unsupportable case and unwittingly misrepresent the situation both to the Court and to the State.

Despite this bombshell statement and turn of events that describes conduct that could have clearly resulted in criminal charges, Dumke gives voice in his article to none of this in his recounting of Protess and Northwestern. Rather, he writes thatProtess's methods were eventually discredited, that Protess left the school in the wake of the ensuing controversy

Not exactly, Mick. 

Clearly Dumke is obfuscating the real significance of Protess’ conduct in the McKinney case and what it means in the context of the larger wrongful conviction narrative. 

Here is what actually happened: Caught red-handed manufacturing and hiding evidence once again, the school canned Protess and admitted he was a liar.

Northwestern’s bombshell admission about Protess and their firing of him was yet another indication that what Chicago detectives had been saying for years was true: Dumke’s so-called “flawed murder convictions” weren’t flawed at all. 

It’s important to pause and consider what is at stake. These were cases of vicious murders with grieving families and cops whose lives were ruined by the claims of Protess and his media supporters. This is the criminal justice system being sacrificed by private and potentially malevolent factions. 

Dumke’s article is a sordid look into the imagination of a wrongful conviction journalist in Chicago, a measure of the lengths to which they will go to preserve their wrongful conviction mythology. 

In the wake of all this evidence, Dumke’s suspicious motives are revealed, once again, just as much by the questions he doesn’t address as those he does. 

The reader might ask why, despite the wrongdoing that Northwestern itself admitted, neither Dumke nor any of his colleagues at the Reader ever asked the next logical question following Protess’ firing from Northwestern: In how many other cases was he employing his “discredited methods.” How many other cases is there evidence of lying, altering evidence, and bribing witnesses by Protess? Isn’t this exactly what the detectives have been begging the Chicago journalists to do for more than thirty years, but Dumke and his band of brothers steadfastly refused? 

Salvatore’s statement seems like a plea from another world. 

“I got accused of being this ringleader in a great conspiracy to frame Anthony Porter. I got accused of not having probable cause. I got accused of intimidating witnesses and I got accused of physical abuse, and I didn’t do any of this. And I have to ask. If they were making this up in my case, in how many others were they doing it?” 

Something else is missing in Dumke’s article. Why hasn’t one journalist in Chicago, why hasn’t Dumke or anyone at the Reader, gotten hold of the internal investigation by Northwestern into Protess’ conduct? The report is rumored to contain other bombshell evidence about Protess misconduct. Wouldn’t any real journalist be drooling to get at such a report? 

Imagine if such a report existed about a cop. You couldn’t shake Dumke and his wolf pack of journalists off the trail. 

The likely answer as to why they won’t track down this report is rather simple. The list of misconduct at Northwestern is also the list of misconduct by journalists, who went along, like so many lap dogs, with whatever Protess and other wrongful conviction law firms claimed.

That’s it, right? That’s the end of the story? 

No, it isn’t. 

Amazingly, it gets even worse. 

Remember Governor Ryan? Remember how Dumke had the gall to say that Ryan was reacting to “flawed murder convictions” when he ended the death penalty?Remember how Dumke ignored the evidence that these convictions were not flawed at all?  

Well, maintaining this false party line about these cases also excuses Dumke and his cohorts from facing the most chilling exoneration of them all, that of Madison Hobley, and the role of Chicago journalists in it.  

Hobley was pardoned along with four other men in the wake of the Porter exoneration. Ryan harkened back to the Porter case when he let all four men go. 

That’s right. In letting four more killers out of prison, Ryan justified the decision in part by referring to the Porter exoneration, an exoneration that has now been completely undermined. 

You wouldn’t know about any of this from reading Dumke’s article, but it’s all true, on the public record. 

Ryan let these men out despite the fact that they had never been able to convince a jury or judge that they were innocent and despite the fact that they had never unearthed any new evidence pointing to their innocence, and he justified much of it based on the Porter case. 

Madison Hobley had been convicted for an arson that killed seven people in 1987. Out of deference to the living family members of victims in the arson, Crooked City will not publish the morgue photos of the burned victims, including the two children who perished when Hobley poured a pool of gasoline outside his apartment door, then down a stairwell. Hobley did so knowing his wife and child were sleeping inside his apartment. Here, though, are pictures of the building after the fire. 

Far be it for Dumke to take a second look at this arson, this so-called “suspicious murder conviction” and Ryan’s shocking decision to release Hobley for the crime, to take a second look at it in light of all the evidence of corruption in the wrongful conviction claims from this era. 

The reason the Chicago media won’t take this second look do it is twofold. 

The Hobley exoneration could not have taken place without the complicity of Dumke’s Chicago Reader. This complicity took the form of journalists ignoring central evidence of Hobley’s guilt in their coverage of the story, including the fact that Hobley threatened an arson against his wife and child several weeks before he set the fire that killed both of them. That’s right. The Reader ignored this threat, which was documented in a case report.    

The second reason is that Hobley’s arson paved the way for the sole criminal conviction against Dumke’s poster child for police abuse, former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge. The Burge conviction is the foundation upon which Dumke and his cohorts have constructed their mythology about the Chicago Police and wrongful convictions for the last three decades. To face the truth about the Porter exoneration, then Hobley’s, would be a devastating revelation of media corruption spanning three decades. 

And that just can’t happen.

It can’t.

Alvarez is the first prosecutor in more than a decade who actually challenged a wrongful conviction case. Alvarez did so grudgingly in the Porter case, only after she was confronted with a body of evidence she could not escape. 

In doing so, Alvarez opened a window into the dark soul of the wrongful conviction movement and the journalists who have supported them. 

Dumke’s article suggests that’s exactly why the Reader wants Alvarez out. 

And they might pull it off. Alvarez is extremely weak.

And on top of that, there is no Rule 14 violation for journalists in Chicago. They can say whatever they want in the Crooked City. 

Martin Preib is a Chicago Cop and writer. His second book, Crooked City, is available on Amazon. He is currently working on his third book, about Jon Burge and the Madison Hobley arson, called Burn Patterns. 

False Light Theory Illuminate Media Wrongs in Evans Case?

False light is a legal theory that allows someone to file a lawsuit against a media outlet for publishing offensive and false facts.  

Closely related to defamation, the false light theory claims that information released about an individual is wrong if it is misleading, unreasonable, and malicious.

The legal theory holds the following elements: a publication about someone, one made with actual malice, and one that places the individual in a perspective that would be considered highly offensive by a reasonable person. 

More and more this false light legal theory seems to address the abuses Chicago Police Commander Glenn Evans has endured by Chicago’s media machine.  

Evans was indicted last year for allegedly sticking a gun in the mouth of gang member Ricky Williams after a chase in 2013. 

A few days after Williams was arrested, Evans was called down to headquarters and ordered by the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA)—the agency that investigates police misconduct—to submit his pistol for a DNA swab. A state police DNA report later indicated the swab showed Ricky Williams’ DNA was on Evans’ gun. 

A media frenzy followed, describing the report as indicative of Evans’ guilt. Part of that frenzy included reporters requesting Evans’ work history and publishing complaints made against him over the course of his career. 

But the criminal case against Evans has taken some heavy blows in the last few months, not the least of which is the emergence of possible exculpatory evidence. In June, the Cook County State’s Attorney announced that this evidence emerged from an inquiry by the city’s Inspector General (IG) into the IPRA, the agency that investigated Evans.  

Exactly what that exculpatory evidence is, isn’t clear. Judge Diane Cannon has imposed a protective order in the case. 

But a reporter for public radio station WBEZ, Chip Mitchell, has stated in his reports that one aspect of the investigation by the IG into IPRA is the release of the DNA report of Evans’ gun to the media. Mitchell and other media outlets have stated that this report was first released by Mitchell.

If IPRA released the report, it would be a significant violation of Evans’ due process and a serious blow in the case against him. It could be construed as an underhanded act to portray Evans in a negative light.

Did the reporter who allegedly first released the DNA report, Chip Mitchell, know that its release might be a violation of Evans’ due process? How did he get hold of it? 

More so, is the report even indicative of Evans’ guilt at all? 

Evans’ attorney, Laura Morask, has stated that the DNA could have gotten on the gun in various ways. Evans never denied, for example, that he was wrestling with Williams in the course of the arrest. So why then is the DNA report portrayed as such a bombshell piece of evidence against Evans? 

It may be just as feasible that the state DNA report actually bolsters Evans’ account of what took place. 

And what about the exculpatory evidence the prosecutor and IG have brought forth? Why didn’t the media discover it in the course of their investigation? If they were being reasonable in their reporting, wouldn’t they have discovered such evidence or learned that IPRA was itself the subject of an investigation? 

Rather than discover this evidence, media reps like Mitchell at WBEZ and the Steve Schmadeke at the Chicago Tribune obtained the record of accusations made against  Evans, records they obtained through Freedom of Information requests. 

The reporters dug deeply into the allegations against Evans, but, it appears, not so deeply into other aspects of the case, such as potential misconduct by IPRA. 

Then WBEZ’s Chip Mitchell took it a step further. He interviewed G. Flint Taylor from the People’s Law Office in an article in which Mitchell described the misconduct complaints against Evans. 

Seeking a comment from Taylor is somewhat surprising. 

The reason is that Taylor is the leading architect of the wrongful conviction movement in Chicago. His law firm has spent the last three decades vilifying Chicago Police Officers, claiming, among other things, that many are racist torturers. Taylor’s PLO is also infamous for its long client list and associations with native terrorist groups who have committed bombings and other violence throughout the country, many of them driven by an intensely anti-American, pro-Marxist ideology.  

But in the last few years, Taylor’s claims about police corruption have taken their own body blows. Some of the seminal wrongful convictions Taylor and other wrongful conviction activists have cited as evidence of police wrongdoing have imploded, much as the Evans case now seems to be. 

Chief among those is the Anthony Porter exoneration in 1999. Once the lynchpin wrongful conviction case in Illinois, the Porter exoneration is showing itself to be nothing more than a criminal conspiracy by wrongful conviction activists at Northwestern University, longtime allies of Taylor. The evidence of wrongdoing in the case was never difficult to find, but Taylor and his wrongful conviction cohorts ignored it for more than a decade. 

Another key murder case, this time a mass murder in which seven people died in an arson, is also revealing itself to be every bit as corrupt as the Porter case.  In this arson case, Madison Hobley was exonerated and released from prison. A key witness against Hobley was Evans, who maintains to this day—in defiance of the wrongful conviction mythology posited by Taylor—that Hobley was guilty of the arson. 

The Evans connection to the Hobley arson in light of the indictment on charges that would undermine his credibility in any criminal case is a connection Mitchell, or any other reporter, will not draw. 

Mitchell does not explain is just why he still considers Taylor a reliable source for commentary on Evans’ case. 

The evidence of wrongdoing among wrongful conviction lawyers and activists, including freeing a mass murderer and making him rich, pales in comparison to the accusations against Evans. 

But Mitchell, and the Chicago media in general, nevertheless insist on running to Taylor for an almost obligatory comment against the police. 

And Taylor delivered:

“He’s [Evans’] one of the worst [excessive-force] repeater cops in the history of the city of Chicago,” Taylor said. “He should be fired.”


One of the worst in the history of Chicago? 

A police officer who went to the upper ranks of the department and worked in the most violent, crime-ridden neighborhoods is one of the worst excessive force cops in the history of the department? A police commander beloved by many people in the community, who garnered the support the superintendent and the mayor? 

He should be fired? 

On what basis does Taylor make this claim? And on what journalistic criteria does Mitchell publish it? 

Clearly Judge Cannon did not see the misconduct complaints as holding much import. Clearly she didn’t see Evans’ work history in such an extreme perspective as Taylor did. In fact, Cannon ruled these misconduct complaints won’t be allowed into trial: 

But in terms of relevance and materiality, the court found there was nothing systematic, nothing alleged in the OPS [IPRA] records. There was no history of brutality. The vast majority were not sustained of the OPS [IPRA] records, unfounded. The defendant was actually exonerated. The petitions were withdrawn. And, again, a large portion, the defendant was not the arresting or primary officer. 

So what exactly is Flint Taylor talking about? 

It’s almost as if Flint Taylor is the go-to guy when the media wants to press a case against police officers, when they want to hang them out to dry, as the media did to the detectives in the Porter case, and then in the Hobley case. 

And then again, where is the coverage of Evans’ success? Where are the discussions of his awards, the breaking down of crime statistics before and after he came to a district? 

What about his medal of valor? 

In fact, isn’t fighting crime exactly what he was doing the night he chased Ricky Williams after observing Williams with a gun? Isn’t this what the police are supposed to be doing? 

If the criminal case against Evans falls apart, how can all this blatantly biased reporting not be construed as malicious, a key element in proving the “false light” legal theory?  

There is one more telling development in the case. 

If Evans were truly guilty, wouldn’t he dread a trial? After all, he stands to lose everything: his pension, his job, his reputation, even his freedom. If he were guilty, there would likely be signs of a plea deal, but there is no evidence that Evans ever did anything but fight for a trial, as if he is chomping at the bit to get the evidence into court.

“I cannot comment directly on the case because of the protective order, but I am eager to go to trial and confident the evidence will absolutely show I am innocent,” Evans told Crooked City. 

These are hardly the statements and actions of a guilty man. 

It’s more like the conduct of a man guided by a singular vision, a vision that takes shape in the false light of the Crooked City. 

                                                   Click Here to Order a Print or Electronic Copy

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Martin Preib is an awarding-winning writer and Chicago Police Officer. His first book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City was published by the University of Chicago Press. His second book, Crooked City, chronicles his investigation into Chicago's wrongful conviction movement. Told in the gripping tension of a crime novel, Crooked City paints a dire picture of the movement to release convicted killers from prison. 

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The Angel of Death Row and the Court Jester



By William B. Crawford

Sometime in the year 2,000, a man and a woman paid a surprise visit to the southeast side Chicago home of Andre Council, a visit that can only be described as bizarre and brazen. Council had testified as the Cook County State’s Attorney’s star witness years before, in the 1990 arson/murder trial of Madison Hobley and now the two visitors wanted to talk to Council real bad about his 1990 testimony. 

It was principally on the strength of Council’s testimony that a jury in the Cook County criminal courtroom of Judge Christy Berkos found Hobley guilty of setting fire to an apartment building in the 1100 block of East 82nd Street on January 6, 1987 that caused the death of seven of the buildings occupants, including Hobley’s wife, Anita, 21, and his fifteen-month old son, Philip. Following a post-conviction hearing, Berkos sentenced Hobley to death. 

The woman half of the team that wanted to talk to Council during the 2000 visit to his home was Andrea D. Lyon, a graduate of Rutgers University who went on to obtain a law degree from Antioch School of Law. At the time of the Council visit, she was the director of the Center for Justice in Capital Cases at Chicago’s DePaul University College of Law in Chicago.

Fourteen years after her highly unusual 2000 chat with Council, she would be appointed Dean of Valparaiso Law School, becoming the first woman to head the century-plus old Hoosier law school. Upon landing at her new “Valpo Law” post in 2014, Lyon said, “Valparaiso Law is a community dedicated to excellence in legal education as well as social justice. In short, it is a special place and I am thrilled to be part of it.”

But Lyon is far more than a fighter for social justice. She also is an Angel. An Angel of a lawyer, that is. But don’t take our word for that characterization. The claim to Angel-ship comes from Lyon herself, in a 2014 book she authored bearing the title, “Angel of Death Row: MY LIFE AS A DEATH PENALTY DEFENSE ATTORNEY,” originally published by Kaplan Publishing, a division of Kaplan Inc. 

Amazon’s web site, where the “Angel of Death Row” is available, introduces the potential reader with the following foreword on the author and her tome’s narrative: 

“Nineteen times, death penalty defense lawyer Andrea D. Lyon has represented a client found guilty of capital murder. Nineteen times, she has argued for that individual’s life to be spared. Nineteen times, she has succeeded. Dubbed the ‘Angel of Death Row’ by the Chicago Tribune, Lyon was the first woman to serve as lead attorney in a death penalty case. Throughout her career, she has defended those accused of heinous acts and argued that, no matter their guilt or innocence (emphasis ours), they deserved a chance at redemption.”

At Lyon’s side during the 2000 visit to Council’s house was Paul Ciolino, in many ways a polar opposite of his female colleague. A 1974 graduate of Reavis High School in Burbank, Illinois, Ciolino attended nearly a dozen junior colleges before finally obtaining an associate degree from Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills. Ciolino, who became a licensed Illinois private detective, also was saddled with a checkered past, which included his once having threatened to put a bullet in the head of a south suburban man who had been hassling one of Ciolino’s clients. In an earlier incident, he was fined $2,000 by state regulators for having acted as a private eye without an Illinois license and barred from working as a private eye for a year. 

At the time of the visit to Council’s house, Ciolino was well known to Chicago’s newspaper and internet readerships. After all, it was Ciolino, who, acting on an illegal charade crafted and supervised by David Protess, a now disgraced former professor at Northwestern University’s Medill school of Journalism, extracted an illegal and sensational 1999 confession from Alstory Simon in which Simon admitted fatally shooting a young couple in the pool area of Chicago’s Washington Park in 1982.

As a consequence of the illegal confession, Simon was sentenced to 37 years in prison and the real killer, Anthony Porter, who had been sentenced to death for the 1982 double homicide, was summarily freed by State’s Attorney Dick Devine after spending 17 years on death row and ultimately pardoned by then Gov. George Ryan. 

The overriding purpose of Lyon’s and Ciolino’s visit to Andre Council’s home? Real simple. To get Andre Council to alter the testimony he had given to a criminal court jury that led to Hobley’s conviction and sentence of death in 1994.

Their visit came in anticipation of a 2003 civil federal lawsuit Hobley would file against the City of Chicago and seven police officers: Commander Jon Burge, Detectives Robert Dwyer, James Lotito, Virgil Mikus, Daniel McWeeny, John Paladino and Sgt. Patrick Garrity. The suit was filed by Kurt H. Feuer of Leovy & Leovy after Gov. George Ryan, facing mounting legal troubles of his own, pardoned Hobley on Jan. 9, 2003, at the recommendation of the Illinois Prison Review Board based on new evidence brought to the board’s attention by Feuer and Lyon. 

Specifically, Ciolino and Lyon wanted Council, who would be called as a key witness in the federal civil suit, to recant his trial testimony, which was so damming of Hobley, and change it so it would accord with their theory of the case--namely that Hobley was innocent--and thus pave the way for a handsome payout from the defendants to Hobley and Hobley’s legal team. 

 In anticipation of that federal suit, Andre Council was deposed in part on October 22, 2004 by James Sotos, an attorney who was representing the named defendants, that is John Burge et al. While the deposition is hundreds of pages, for the purposes set forth here, the focus is on Andre Council’s account of the Lyon/Ciolino visit to his home in 2000. 

Council begins by telling Sotos that at some point in the year 2000, two persons show up at his house on East 147th Street, whom he identifies as Andrea Lyon, a woman with “black long hair….medium build, kind of heavyset,” and Paul Ciolino, whom Council describes as “a white guy....not heavyset, maybe medium.”

After Council inited his unanticipated guests into his house, Sotos asks the witness to describe the initial exchange between him and Ciolino and Lyon. 

“Well, both of them was talking to me. I don’t remember little details. You know, they were telling me that, you know, he didn’t do it.”

Sotos:    He meaning who?

Council:  Madison Hobley. You know, that’s the way---they say Madison Hobley, he wasn’t the one who set the fire. The lady was telling me, you know, that I need to concentrate on looking at him as not being guilty, you know….he wasn’t guilty. So they was  telling me, you know, that this is going to come up again, you know, and that I was going to have to go----that they was appealing this case.”

Council’s deposition testimony then takes a turn into an area where it appears that his guests are attempting to offer him something of value in return for his altered testimony, a tactic used time and again by Ciolino in the Alstory Simon/Anthony Porter saga.

 Council: And they were both telling me that, you know, my…it was a mantle piece, something like this. My daughter’s picture was sitting up there right in front. They was asking me did I have kids.

Sotos: Asked if you had kids?

Council: Right….And so they was asking me what grade, what grade they were in, how old was my kids and was they going to college. I said, yeah my daughter is older and they was talking about what she going to college for. I told them I didn’t know what she was going to college for. I told them I didn’t know what she was she going to do. And they asked me, you know, how would I like to not work anymore. They said that they have ways they could do it. You know, she said she deal with colleges. 

Council again: And he was telling me the same thing, basically, that they would send my daughter to college and I wouldn’t have to pay for it.

Sotos: What do you mean, if you changed our testimony?

Council: Exactly. They told me first of all, he’s not guilty I’m like, first of all, I’m saying this to myself, they didn’t know Madison Hobley before this case comes up. You know I could see if they live right next to him or they knew him, but they didn’t know anything about him at all. 

Sotos then asks Council whether his guests told him what they wanted him to say.

“They wanted me to say that I didn’t….that I wasn’t sure. She was writing down, which I never said this before, but I’m going to say it now. She was writing on a sheet of paper the things that I should say.

Sotos: Andrea Lyon was?

Council: Right. 

Council concludes this portion of his deposition with the following:

“And then they was both telling me they could just help me….Just to go in there and tell the people, hey, you’re not sure. You know, after thinking about it, she was drinking a pop, and she was saying, you know, you’re not really sure…..And, so, she told me I wouldn’t have to work no more. I say, you know, you all got to go.”

On the way out the door, Council said his departing guests said, “If I wanted to change my mind, here’s the card and contact us and they’ll be back out to talk to me again.”

With that, the Angel of Death Row--or is it the Devil of Death Row---and Ciolino, the sometime gun-slinging private eye with the checkered past hit the road.

For the record, the Hobley case never went to trial, much to the unhappiness of the police defendants who urged that the case proceed. Under an unusual settlement, the City agreed to pay Hobley and his attorneys in excess of $7 million for his “wrongful conviction.” 

William B. Crawford is a former writer, reporter and legal affairs columnist who won many major awards, including a Pulitzer, during a twenty-four-year career at the Chicago Tribune. After leaving the paper in the mid-'90s, he worked as a vice president in charge of communications for the Chicago Mercantile Exchange before co-founding a niche public relations/media strategy firm on Michigan Avenue. His latest book(below) is a non-fictional account of the how the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University put an innocent men behind bars for fifteen years. Crawford's  work was instrumental in recently freeing this innocent man, Alstory Simon, from prison. 


"It's only fitting that the man who was the driving force behind Alstory Simon's release wrote the definitive record of the case. Highly recommended!"

"This is a tale of a miscarriage of justice so grotesque that it may make you question every well-intentioned "justice" or "innocence" project in the country. But then it reminds you that this particular perversion of justice was largely the result of one seemingly amoral man's efforts. Best of all, it is an absolutely compelling read."

"Thank you Bill Crawford. It's regrettable the media outlets that were complicit in peddling all the BS the Innocence Project fed them refuse to acknowledge their lack of due diligence and responsibility in setting these murderers free, and the danger and financial expense this has put upon the taxpayers of Chicago."

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An Open Letter to PLO Attorney Joey Mogul...

Dear Ms. Mogul,

I am in receipt of your letter, reprinted in part, sent yesterday to my attorney, Tom Osran. In it, you accuse him of “bullying” and being “offensively aggressive” toward you when he called you to discuss the relevance of certain seemingly superfluous emails you were requesting.  

First, let me encourage you to reconsider your use of the term bullying. The request by my attorney was a simple matter in such motions, requested, he assures me, in a routine, matter of fact manner. How you could construe this as bullying or offensively aggressive is hard to imagine. 

Maybe I can help. Let me see if I can point out the difference between civilized communications and bullying by providing you with a few examples. 

When private investigator Paul Ciolino, working on behalf of Northwestern University, went to the residence of Alstory Simon in 1999, armed, and threatened with violence and trumped up criminal charges in order to get Simon to confess to a double murder he did not commit, that was bullying. 

When Ciolino and former Professor David Protess made deals with other witnesses to provide false testimony to free sociopathic killer Anthony Porter, that was bullying. 

When Protess and Ciolino manipulated naive Northwestern students to take part in their plan to frame Alstory Simon, that was bullying. 

When Ciolino and student Thomas McCann badgered William Taylor into changing his eyewitness testimony in the Porter case, that was bullying. 

When a central witness in the Madison Hobley case described how Ciolino and DePaul University Professor Andrea Lyon came to his house and attempted to bribe him into changing his testimony, that, if true, would be bullying. 

When Ciolino, Protess, and the students publicly claimed, without any evidence, that the detectives in the Porter case, Charles Salvatore and Dennis Gray, framed Porter for the murders, that would be a kind of bullying. 

When the two detectives fought to have the case go to a civil trial and found an attorney, Walter Jones, willing to look at the evidence, and that attorney refused to settle and argued in court that Porter was the offender in the murders and then told stupified journalists after the verdict that he thought Porter was the offender, and Eric Zorn, who had not even bothered to hear the evidence in the case, lashed out at Jones in a column the following day for daring to suggest Porter was guilty, that would be bullying. 

When law firms have a cabal of “journalists” like John Conroy, Mike Miner, Steve Mills, Eric Zorn, Fran Spielman and Neil Steinberge willing to obfuscate the facts or ignore them altogether in an attempt to push a wrongful conviction narrative and vilify the police and prosecutors, well, that would be a kind of journalistic bullying. 

When a Governor renowned for his corruption suddenly pardons four inmates on death row, even one who set a fire that killed seven people, including his own wife and child, without any new evidence of their innocence, disregarding the hardship and sorrow family members of the victims must endure, that too is a kind of bullying.

When another governor commutes the sentence of a man convicted on four counts of attempted murder in the waning moments of the governor’s administration, without even explaining his decision, well that would be a kind of bullying the entire criminal justice system that spent nine years working to convict the offender. 

When a group of terrorists make bombs and set them off in public places, murdering innocent people, that is a form of bullying. 

And when a writer—a writer whose work played a pivotal role in reversing the most clear wrongful conviction case in the state’s history—is the target of a malevolent attack upon his privacy and free speech in order to vilify him and therefore silence him, well, that would be a form of bullying as well. 

But an attorney calling you to clarify the terms of a court motion, that is not bullying. That is just a mundane legal matter. 

In fact, it is your nasty, calculated letter making such absurd allegations against my lawyer that is the real bullying. 

Are you getting the picture? 

I know it is a difficult thing to sit down and reason with people who disagree with you or people you hate. Doing so is one of the principles of police work when one is a police officer in a free society. Some cops do it better than others. But I take the principle of such civility as a kind of higher calling and my successes in doing so with a sense of pride and honor. 

But then, as both a cop and a writer, I believe in democracy, and therefore conceive of the courts and legal system guided by the ideals of justice and truth seeking, not merely as instruments of destruction and vengeance.  

Very Truly Yours,

Martin Preib

Chicago Police Officer


Flint Taylor Goes After Crooked City Writer

A judge ruled this week that a Chicago Police Officer who is also an award-winning writer must turn over email messages he has received from former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge.  

Circuit Court Judge Erica Riddic ordered the release of email records by Chicago cop Martin Preib, whose 2014 book, Crooked City, played a pivotal role in undermining a central wrongful conviction case in Illinois. 

Preib is currently writing a book about Jon Burge. 

The order arose from a subpoena by Chicago Attorney G. Flint Taylor of the People’s Law Office, a law firm that has made its fame and fortune by claiming police torture and coercion. In particular, Taylor has spearheaded the thirty-year fight against Burge, claiming he and his men routinely tortured confessions from suspects. 

Preib’s attorney had argued that the subpoena violated Preib’s freedom of speech and his protection under the statute protecting journalists and their sources. 

Preib is the author of another book, The Wagon and Other Stories From the City, as well as several articles in national magazines. His blog,, also describes his investigation into corruption within the wrongful conviction movement. 

Last month, Preib published an exclusive statement from Jon Burge in response to the decision by the Chicago City Council to establish a reparations fund to men who claimed they were abused by Chicago Police, a decision by the council that infuriated many attorneys and members of law enforcement.

Here is part of Burge’s statement about the decision:

What about reparations for the families of the African American victims of the heinous crimes perpetrated by the scum who now demand reparations? This entire scenario is being manipulated by lawyers like G. Flint Taylor and his ilk. They have been getting rich for years filing specious lawsuits against Chicago Police Officers, the City of Chicago and other government entities. They know that 99% of the time the City will settle the lawsuit rather than go to trial because it’s cheaper. The City never admits wrongdoing on their part or the part of the individual defendants (police officers) when they settle.

Burge’s comments drew Taylor’s ire. Taylor responded in the Sun Times:

“(Burge) is clearly a serial human rights violator who has committed racist crimes against humanity too numerous to count. And this attack on the men who have so bravely stood up to him — and who a jury and a federal judge relied upon to send him to the penitentiary — only underscores how disgraceful and cowardly his unsworn statements . . . slandering me, my fellow lawyers and these clients are,” Taylor said.

“He says the truth will come out. The truth has come out. That’s why the city has acted as it has. No matter what kind of cowardly statements Burge may make under cover of darkness, it is not going to change the public record of his and his fellow officers’ crimes.”  

The truth has come out? 

Well, let’s take a look at that.

In Burge’s full statement, Burge cites the Anthony Porter case. 

The Porter case plays a pivotal role in the wrongful conviction narrative, including Taylor’s, because Porter’s exoneration paved the ay for other inmates to go free, including inmates represented by Taylor and the PLO.  

In the Porter case, wrongful conviction activists at Northwestern University coerced an innocent man, Alstory Simon, into confessing to the crimes in order to allow Anthony Porter to be exonerated. 

But last year, Cook County Prosecutor Anita Alvarez released Simon from prison, saying his constitutional rights had been violated by Northwestern Professor David Protess and his private investigator Paul Ciolino. 

A few weeks ago, Judge Thomas Byrne went one step further and declared that Alstory Simon was innocent. 

Just last month, former Tribune reporter William Crawford published a book, Justice Perverted: How The Innocence Project at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism Sent an Innocent Man to Prison, detailing the corruption at Northwestern’s Innocence Project in the Porter case, including evidence that other cases taken up by the school are also highly suspicious. 

Even Taylor himself has admitted the crucial role the Porter exoneration plays in his 30-year narrative about the Chicago Police. He said as much in a 2013 article for The Nation magazine about Governor Ryan’s ending of the death penalty and his freeing of several death row inmates:

[Former Illinois Governor George] Ryan’s momentous actions [i.e., the ending of the state’s death penalty] were partly inspired by the case of Anthony Porter, who came within days of execution only to later be exonerated, thanks in large part to the work of journalism students at Northwestern University. Much credit has been awarded to their work in opening Ryan’s eyes—and rightly so. 

But now with the release of Simon and the declaration by a judge that Simon is innocent, it turns out Ryan’s eyes weren’t open at all, and neither were Taylor’s. 

What makes the downfall of the Porter case even worse is the fact that Northwestern University worked with Taylor’s PLO and other law firms on several cases, yet neither Taylor nor any other law firm has explained why they did not see the corruption at Northwestern, corruption that was evident in the public record for more than a decade. 

Nor have the PLO or any other wrongful conviction law firms condemned the corruption at Northwestern.  

For the wrongful conviction law firms in Chicago, it seems that the truth has still not come out. 

Now wrongful conviction law firms are facing attacks on even more fronts. 

Alstory Simon’s attorneys have filed a $40 million lawsuit against Protess, Ciolino and Northwestern University, a lawsuit that is sure to cast more suspicion on key wrongful conviction cases. In the lawsuit, the attorneys cite a pattern of evidence in wrongful conviction cases dating back more than a decade. 

What must be of particular concern to the wrongful conviction advocates, including Taylor and the PLO, are the collection of inmates who were freed by Ryan in the wake of the Porter exoneration, in particular Madison Hobley. 

Hobley was convicted of setting a fire that killed seven people in 1987, including his own wife and child. He was exonerated by Governor Ryan—the same governor who let Porter out, buying Northwestern’s lies about Alstory Simon—even though no legal proceeding ever ruled that Hobley was in any way innocent of the crimes. 

Rather, each legal proceeding bolstered his conviction. 

In the lawsuit by Simon’s attorneys, they point out that a central witness in the Hobley conviction claims Ciolino attempted to bribe him into changing his statement. The witness’ account is chillingly similar to the claims of other witnesses who said Ciolino and Protess attempted to bribe them. 

And now extraordinary evidence of corruption within Taylor’s own law firm is emerging. 

For a long time, a key witness from the 1970s who infiltrated the terrorist organization Weather Underground (WU), Larry Grathwohl, stated that Taylor’s PLO and the Weather Underground were working hand in hand. 

Now a new book by Bryan Burroughs, Days of Rage, a history of the Weather Underground, corroborates Grathwohl’s statement. 

In his book, Burroughs quotes a founding member of the PLO, attorney Dennis Cunningham, and his wife, about their frequent visits to Weather Underground members, particularly founding WU member Bernadine Dohrn, in the days the WU was living underground and setting off bombs on the west coast. 

Burroughs describes how WU members became concerned that they would be spotted by members of law enforcement in their attempts to scout new bomb sites. In response, they hit on the idea of bringing children with them. 

But they didn’t have any children of their own. So, according to Burroughs, they used Cunningham’s children. 

Burroughs wrote in an article for Vanity Fair:

No beat cop, they (the Weather Underground members) reasoned, would suspect a family with kids out for an evening stroll. It was a brilliant idea; the only problem was, no one in Weather had children. A handful of supporters did, however, and this was how one of Dohrn’s friends, the Chicago attorney Dennis Cunningham, saw his family drawn into clandestineness. Cunningham was a key conduit for the money that paid the leadership’s living expenses. 

The truth is coming out. It’s right there in print. The children of a PLO member were used by terrorists to help them scout out new bombing locations. They were also supplying the terrorist bombers with money. Burroughs also rejects the claim by WU members that they were never out to injure anyone in their bomb sprees. On the contrary, he argues, they were a violent organization, particularly against the police. 

In the wake of all this evidence that the wrongful conviction movement is as crooked as any Chicago detective, real or imagined, the PLO narrative about the Chicago police is crumbling. 

Which begs a question: why is the PLO spending its time demanding the records of a beat cop who is also a published writer? 

Why the sudden war on a free speech?

Well, is it such a complicated question? Since the wrongful conviction narrative began to fail in the Porter case, wrongful conviction activists and their media allies have assailed anyone questioning the legitimacy of their claims. 

One wonders: Is Taylor trying to head off the growing chorus—headed by Preib—questioning Taylor’s claims about the police and the wrongful conviction narrative in general? 

After all, the Chicago FOP recently sent a letter to the Cook County State’s Attorney demanding a wider criminal probe into Northwestern’s wrongful conviction cases in light of the Porter debacle. 

The irony is thick. The PLO has allied itself with terrorist bombers for more than thirty years. Then it mastered the art of legal bombs hurled against police and prosecutors. 

Now it’s almost as if a metaphorical bomb is ticking in the offices of the law firms that have supported wrongful conviction claims for more than thirty years. 

Once it could not be heard. 

Now the ticking is clear, the actual living heartbeat of the Crooked City. 

Support for Cops Sold Out by Quinn

We're repeating an interview with Police Officer John Wrigley, who was shot in 2005 during a traffic stop. Two other cops were also shot. The offender, Howard Morgan, was eventually convicted of four counts of attempted murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison. 

Last year, former Governor Quinn inexplicably commuted Morgan's sentence without any explanation, perhaps the most disgusting betrayal of law enforcement in the last 20 years. 

Neither Mayor Emanuel nor newly elected Governor Bruce Rauner had anything to say about this blatant violation of the criminal justice system. 

Now Morgan and his supporters are gearing up to try and get him pardoned. 

Please support of the victims at the State of Illinois Building 100 W. Randolph, Chicago, Illinois on July 8, 2015, at 9:00 a.m., or send representatives from your departments. The petitioner usually has several uninformed supporters at all of his court dates. It would be helpful to have officers and civilians who are familiar with all the facts to support the officers.

Smoke in the Cockpit of Torture Commission?

Is the The Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC) in violation of the Constitution?

That question may be put on the table this summer. 

The commission, established to investigate allegations of torture by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge, has been condemned by critics as nothing more than an arm of the wrongful conviction movement. Murder cases that were once long considered finished in the legal system have been resurrected through TIRC, even without the discovery of any new compelling evidence.

But now there are rumors that a movement among lawyers is afoot to eliminate the commission by having it declared unconstitutional. 

If true, abolishing TIRC would be a devastating blow to wrongful conviction law firms and academics like the People’s Law Office, Loevy and Loevy, and Northwestern University, all of whom clearly supported the ability of the organization to push their police torture narratives when all other legal strategies failed.  

TIRC is comprised of a significant majority of wrongful conviction activists. Critics—particularly the family members of murder victims—have complained repeatedly about what they say is the built-in bias of the organization. 

Joe Heinrich, brother of murder victim Jo Ellen Pueschel, confronted the commission on this bias: 

Before being appointed to this Board, many commissioners were already involved in Burge-related issues and have already decided that any person interrogated by him or those under him should go free.  Some commissioners have written articles, some have added their support and names to court documents favoring the defendants, one founded an organization to investigate and sue police officers, and another runs an organization that has investigated many of the cases this commission has and will consider.  Just last Friday, Governor Quinn  announced that he wants to add a defense attorney who works for a law firm that has been involved in Burge-related court proceedings and a priest who has been arrested and sued police officers.

The move to eliminate TIRC on constitutional grounds would also come right around the time its members rule on its most controversial case to date, convicted killer Jerry Mahaffey. 

Jerry Mahaffey, along with his brother, Reginald, murdered a couple and attempted to murder their son during a 1983 home invasion. 

The Mahaffey crimes shocked the city as the story unfolded of how the brothers broke into the Pueshel apartment in Rogers Park and attacked the family, including repeatedly raping Jo Ellen Pueschel. In the end, the brothers murdered husband Dean Pueschel and Jo Ellen. They left Ricky Pueschel, the son, for dead after stabbing and beating him repeatedly with a baseball bat, but he survived the attack and testified at their trials. 

In 1984, the Mahaffey brothers staged one of the most daring escapes in the history of the Cook County Jail. They convinced a paramedic to smuggle a gun into the facility, taking a corrections officer hostage. They opened up the cells of other inmates, many of whom joined them. They were recaptured. 

Ultimately they were convicted and sentenced to death. It was an open-and-shut case. The brothers repeatedly admitted they had committed the murders. Their own brother had turned them in. They confessed to a state’s attorney, said no one had treated them badly. The property taken from the Pueschels was found in both their apartments, as were the weapons used in the murders. 

Somehow, despite the fact that every legal proceeding bolstered the clear guilt of the two men and the utter absence that they were in any way mistreated by the police or prosecutors, the commission is scheduled to rule on the torture claims of Jerry Mahaffey at their July 22 meeting. 

But if TIRC were ruled unconstitutional, what weight would their rulings hold?  

Eliminating the commission would also come at a time when the wrongful conviction movement is reeling from a series of scandals. One is the recent declaration by Judge Thomas Byrne that Alstory Simon is innocent of a 1982 double homicide. Simon confessed after being coerced by Northwestern University Professor David Protess and his Private Investigator Paul Ciolino.

Several other wrongful conviction cases have imploded after judges have ruled their witnesses were lying.

TIRC member Rob Warden, who recently retired from Northwestern’s Law School, was repeatedly confronted with the evidence of corruption in the Porter case, but refused to take action on it. 

The commission itself has been caught violating its own rules by failing to notify the family members of victims about the fact that TIRC has taken up a case on behalf of the man who murdered their loved ones. 

A key player in any move to strip TIRC of its power could be Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez. Up for re-election, Alvarez has garnered criticism that she is unwilling to make tough decisions based on the evidence and the law, and more on political considerations. Will Alvarez state publicly whether or not she believes the commission is constitutional? 

One faction that seems to be opposing Alvarez in the upcoming election is headed by Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, a vocal supporter of wrongful conviction movement. Preckwinkle has remained silent about the evidence of corruption in the movement, sticking to the police coercion party line even when the evidence shows the claims were trumped up, as they were in the Porter case and others. 

The Chicago Reader, led by reporter Mick Dumke, has transformed itself almost into Preckwinkle’s personal public relations outlet. 

It’s as if the Reader—by getting Preckwinkle’s people elected to the Cook County State’s Attorney—wants a return to the good old days when the paper could write one wrongful conviction narrative after another, regardless of the facts. A state’s attorney who was ideologically allied would go a long way in allowing the Reader to do so. 

In any case,  the question of the commission’s constitutionality would raise the heat around the wrongful conviction cases once again, and likely force authorities like Alvarez to take a stand. 

Will the authorities who believe TIRC is unconstitutional stand up and say so?  

Or will political considerations rule the day? 

Behind it all looms a darker, more crucial question: Will the city allow two more killers to be set free?

Who knows in the Crooked City?

Case Against Police Commander Takes Another Hit

A Cook County judge released evidence to defense attorneys yesterday that could undermine a high-profile criminal case against a Chicago Police Commander.

Judge Diane Cannon released the findings by the city’s Inspector’s General office in their investigation of the agency that reviews police misconduct—the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA). While Cannon has placed a “gag order” on the case, information gleaned during several hearings indicates that the Inspector General’s office has conducted an investigation into IPRA, an investigation that could reveal misconduct within the agency, including possible misconduct in connection with Evans’ case. 

The evidence was brought forward by the Cook County State’s Attorney, who told the judge it contained potentially exculpatory evidence against Chicago Police Commander Glenn Evans, accused of putting a pistol in the mouth of suspect, Rickey J. Williams, a gang member, during an arrest in 2014. 

The state’s attorney stated they brought the evidence forward because they were obligated to do so under the Brady law, which dictates that a prosecutor “must disclose evidence or information that would prove the innocence of the defendant or would enable the defense to more effectively impeach the credibility of government witnesses.”

The prosecutor’s announcement of this evidence was a bombshell in the Evans’ case, delaying the trial until the judge could review it. Cannon’s decision to release the evidence to Evans’ attorneys may be another sign of its potential to bolster his case. 

Recently, IPRA investigator, Martrice Campbell, was  fired from the agency based on allegations of perjury in another, unrelated case. Campbell may also have been an investigator in the city’s investigation of Evans. 

One controversial issue is the release of a state police crime lab DNA report, one stating that Williams’ DNA was on Evans’ gun. That report was released to the media, initially at public radio station WBEZ. 

But Evans’ attorney, Laura Morask, has called into question claims made about the state police report, claims that the local media ran with in a kind of media frenzy. She has also criticized the manner in which the evidence was obtained from Evans, as well as the fact that it was released to public radio station WBEZ.

Morask—a former prosecutor with extensive experience in DNA evidence cases—has argued, for example, that the presence of DNA by the suspect Ricky J. Williams on Evans’ gun could have come from “multiple modes” of transfer, and is in no way conclusive that Evans placed the gun in Williams’ mouth. 

Evans’ attorney has also attacked the investigation by IPRA, stating that his due process was violated by the fact that neither the prosecutor nor IPRA ever interviewed him. Further, she has argued that the release of the DNA report to the media also violated his due process, by releasing evidence while an investigation was still under way. 

From WBEZ:

Morask is demanding records from WBEZ and the Independent Police Review Authority, one of several government entities that had the report. At the hearing, Morask said the records would show bias on the part of the case’s investigators.