Crooked City

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Filtering by Category: Eric Zorn

Burge Keeps Pension. Will David Protess Keep His?

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled this week that former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge will get to keep his police pension, despite the fact that he is in prison for a perjury conviction. Burge's conviction arose from his denial in a civil deposition that he abused suspects. 

The court reviewed the Burge pension issue at the same time the Cook County States Attorney conducted an investigation into a seminal wrongful conviction case involving David Protess, the disgraced former professor at Northwestern University’s Innocence Project.

Protess is currently under fire for his participation in the 1999 exoneration of Anthony Porter for a double homicide, an exoneration that included a bizarre “confession” obtained by Protess and his associates from another man, Alstory Simon, now serving a 37-year sentence for the murders. 

The case is being reviewed by Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez as part of the Conviction Integrity Unit, an agency created under Alvarez that reviews cases based upon new evidence of wrongful conviction.

“With the creation of this unit I am demonstrating my commitment to bringing our very best efforts to ensure that only guilty people are convicted here in Cook County. And if we have any reason to believe that we have prosecuted or are prosecuting someone who is actually innocent, we will continue to take immediate steps to investigate the matter fully to see that justice is served,” Alvarez said. 

Alvarez’s review of the Porter case comes in response to a vast body of evidence submitted to Alvarez's office that Porter was in fact the killer, despite his exoneration. Critics of the exoneration say Porter was released from prison only because of alleged “coercive” tactics by Protess, his private inversigator Paul Ciolino, and several hapless Northwestern journalism students. The allegations include coercing a confession from Alstory Simon, bribing witnesses, and obtaining a lawyer for Simon, who, according to a letter written to Alvarez by attorneys, engaged in “provable misconduct."

What is also emerging in the case is the fact that Protess was able to pull off the Porter exoneration because of his allies in the local media, particularly disgraced Tribune writers Eric Zorn and Steven Mills. Mills is a graduate from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. The record shows these journalists broadcast Protess’ claims without checking the facts, as they if they were public relations employees working for Protess, not journalists at a major metropolitan newspaper looking into a brutal double homicide. 

This record includes the clear fact that the Trib writers never bothered to review basic documents in the case, nor the specific facts of the police investigation, before they wrote about it.

Their coverage of the case begs a question: If these journalists didn't review the record, how could they know whether there was a frame up by the police? 

Now that the new evidence is coming out about the case, the Tribune has initiated a virtual blackout on the story, ignoring crucial new evidence of Porter's guilt that competing newspapers have splashed across their front page.

It’s not just the Porter case that points to wrongdoing at Northwestern during Protess’ tenure at the Innocence Project. 

In 2011, Northwestern itself announced that they had discovered evidence arising from another wrongful conviction case that Protess had lied and doctored evidence. Protess was removed from his teaching position shortly after this evidence was discovered in a internal review conducted by the school. Protess then left the school altogether, but not before the school issued this bombshell statement: 

“The review uncovered numerous examples of Protess knowingly making false and misleading statements to the dean, to University attorneys, and to others. Such actions undermine the integrity of Medill, the University, the Innocence Project, students, alumni, faculty, the press, the public, the State and the Court,” the statement read.  

To some people, making false statements to the state and court is another way of saying they committed "obstruction of justice," the same charge, ironically, that were successfully leveled against Jon Burge. 

But that wasn’t all. Alstory Simon’s attorneys recently wrote a letter to Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez requesting the release of Alstory Simon from prison based on all the evidence, old and new, that Porter was the killer, not Alstory Simon. In doing so, Simon's attorneys listed other cases that illuminated a pattern of what they called was “coercive tactics” by Protess and Ciolino, including the following:

—Prosecution Witness Charles McRaney in the Ford Heights Four case stated Ciolino posed as movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer and offered McRaney money, a movie contract and money from a movie deal in exchange for testimony. McRaney told prosecutors that Protess told McRaney he could “use” one of two female Northwestern students if McRany recanted testimony. 

—A key witness in the Madison Hobley case, Andre Council, testified that Ciolino came to his home with Hobley’s attorney and offered the witness' daughter a free college education and enough money that “he would never need to work again” if the witness would recant his statement.

—Prosecutors discovered emails in which Protess brought a female student to a meeting with a jailed witness as a “treat.”

—In the Alstory Simon case, witness Inez Jackson admitted implicating Alstory Simon in the murders because Protess said he could get Inez’s son out of jail. She also said Protess and Ciolino promised her a large payday for fingering Simon. 

—Witness Walter Jackson also stated that Protess offered to get Jackson out of jail if Jackson would help Porter. 

“All told, six witnesses in Alstory (Simon’s) case corroborate that Protess and Ciolino offered book and movie deals in their presence…” said Simon’s attorney in the letter to Alvarez. 

And what about the journalists who gave voice to Protess’ claims in the Porter case and others? A cursory review of the Porter investigation by Detectives Salvatore and Gray reveals the Northwestern claim that the detectives coerced witnesses in the case was impossible. 

Is it possible journalists did not even review the police investigation? It doesn’t look as if they did. In fact, there are some signs these journalists helped cover up the truth. One of the most disturbing examples was by Eric Zorn, a columnist clearly dizzy with admiration for Protess.

This evidence came out in a civil trial against the detectives. Porter’s attorneys were clearly expecting to make millions in a settlement. But the detectives fought for the case to go to trial (hardly the behavior of detectives who had "framed" someone). In response to the detectives'  demands that the case go to trial, it was farmed out to  an attorney named Walter Jones. At first Jones thought Porter was innocent and he planned on settling. That was until the detectives walked him through it, taking Jones to the crime scene at Washington Park. In doing so, Jones quickly saw Porter was guilty. He refused a settlement and courageously went to trial, arguing that Porter was the killer. Along the way, he found more witnesses fingering Porter. 

The jury agreed with Jones' theory and came back with a not guilty verdict against the detectives. Shocked, one journalist walked over to Jones and asked how it could be that Porter got no money. Jones pointed at Porter and said Porter was the killer.

Furious that Jones would dare contradict the Northwestern party line about Porter being innocent--even though Jones had just proved in court that the Porter exoneration was false-Zorn wrote a scathing personal attack on Jones.

“The City of Chicago owes Anthony Porter a big apology for a stunning, graceless and infamous accusation lobbed at him by an attorney representing the city,” wrote Zorn, arguing the ludicrous claim that the city of Chicago owed an apology to a predatory killer, lifelong gang member and enforcer, stick-up man, and wife beater, whom six witnesses fingered as the offender in a double homicide. 

But what about the evidence in the trial? Why didn't Zorn write about that? Had Zorn even bothered to hear it? Had he listened to the witnesses? How come a jury of 12 could see so easily that the Porter arrest was legit, but Zorn couldn't? And why would he assail an attorney who had just proven it? 

Another example of Zorn's possible journalistic collusion with Northwestern is his vilification of those fighting for Alstory Simon and those fighting to clear the names of the detectives.

Zorn refuses to address an obvious question: If the Porter case held so much evidence of malfeasance, what about other wrongful conviction cases, like the ones listed by Simon's attorneys? Rather than vilifying the attorneys, police, and journalists who point out the evidence of wrongdoing at Northwestern, shouldn't Zorn be investigating it? 

It's as if Zorn, Mills and the Tribune are afraid to look at the dark world the Porter exoneration reveals, one they embraced without questioning.  

Zorn's columns and blog entries have unleashed a wave of antipathy by active and retired cops, many whom have slowly learned about the Porter case and Northwestern University. Many of these cops have been the victims of his poison pen. Some have attempted to post on his blog, demanding that Zorn explain himself, but he is now censoring it, not unlike the Tribunes' refusal to cover crucial new evidence in the Porter case. It's quite a fall for a columnist who, like Protess, once rode high on the wrongful conviction bandwagon.

In any case, Burge can keep his pension.

Will Protess keep his? 

 

Zorn Censors, Ridicules...

Chicago Tribune Columnist Eric Zorn, a main supporter of Northwestern University in their wrongful conviction claims, particularly the Anthony Porter case, now censors his blog. In response to any criticism from a Chicago Police Officer, he can only ridicule, then censor their comments. This is Zorn's blog about the Central Park Five Case and Zorn's coverage of wrongful convictions.

Outraged Blogger, named Jake, who cannot fathom anyone claiming the original offenders in the Central Park Five Case were guilty:

Martin, so your theory is that a psychopathic serial rapist/murderer who always worked alone, including once before in Central Park, decided that night to team up with five total strangers he met in the park to rape the jogger, that somehow that serial solo rapist is the only person among this improvised pack of six to leave any physical evidence behind whatsoever (in the form of DNA), and that each of the other five, for some unknown reason, declined to mention the existence of that sixth rapist in any of their statements to police. The bases of this damned stupid theory are your belief that her injuries are consistent with multiple attackers, your assertion that, despite the presence of knife injuries, Reyes (the "sixth" rapist) didn't mention using a sharp instrument in his statement, even though he used sharp instruments (a knife, an ice-pick) in other attacks, and your faith-like belief in the confessions of scared kids who didn't realize they could never take it back that implicated everyone *but* the one person whom we know was actually was there. I don't have the facts to dispute the snippets of information you post on your blog -- I frankly don't trust them, because you obviously never met a confession that wasn't true, or a police theory that wasn't correct, and you generally seem motivated by a single-minded whackadoo agenda -- but it doesn't matter, because your snippets aren't nearly enough to demonstrate even a possibility, much less a probability, much less proof beyond a reasonable doubt, that any of the five convicted of that crime actually did it.

If you want to get on your high horse on behalf of victims, I'd do it for the five women he attacked after April 1989 one of whom, a pregnant mother, was murdered while her children were in the next room, another of whom was almost blinded (using sharp instruments) by Reyes, after he didn't get caught for the Central Park rape, even though he was already in police crosshairs and could have been caught.

Police are, for the most part I'm sure, hard-working and well-meaning, but everyone makes mistakes. Like doctors, police have an awesome responsibility not to f up -- their mistakes can cost a lot. A good person tries to learn from past mistakes so they don't happen again. Only a prick blusters on that they never happened in the first place.

My Response:

Over the past few months a top prosecutor signed an affidavit saying he thought the release of Anthony Porter was wrong. He had doubts about Alstory Simon being the killer and had grave doubts about his confession. 

Front Page story on the Sun Times.

The Tribune and Zorn?

Silence. 

Lawyers for Simon submit a letter saying Simon's lawyer engaged in provable misconduct and cite a pattern of coercive conduct in other cases. 

Sun Time coverage, Zorn and Tribune silent.

A man convicted of raping and killing a three-year-old girl is exonerated by Northwestern's Law School in 2012. Last month, he is accused of slitting the throat of a man over a dice game. 

Coverage all over the world. 

Zorn and Tribune silent. 

A new documentary played last month by filmmakers in the Porter case who did something Zorn would never dream of doing: They talked to everyone involved, all the witnesses, the investigating cops, the journalists.

They invited Zorn. Maybe he would be interested in seeing how badly he screwed up the biggest wrongful conviction case in the state's history. There were also witnesses in the documentary describing coercive tactics by Northwestern in other cases. This is called a pattern of behavior, or a modus operandi, something Zorn and the Tribune refuse to acknowledge. 

Most of all, Zorn could have confronted some of the detectives whose lives he has ruined over the years and they could have sat down with him and showed him how badly he got it. 

But I guess he had plans that night. 

Zorn's technique, along with his other wrongful conviction activists, is to take a case out of the courtroom where a jury has heard all the evidence, then try it in the press room, where journalists like Zorn can pick some evidence and testimony and ignore others. They can also out and out lie. 

It is also a tactic of these advocates to say people made claims they never made. You are an example, Jake.

My snippets. You might want to take your dazzled eyes off the Burn documentary and review the case clearly. There is a large collection of lawyers, journalists, detectives and politicians who know these kids were guilty, having made admissions that only someone who had been at the crime scene could have made. 

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/editorials/the_central_park_five_again_ypsXFhzI4mhhLz0EEKF9kO

The youths told police that a man named Tony raped the woman. Tony was Reyes’ nickname. 

The allegation in the CPF is not that the cops made a mistake. It's that they engaged in a frame up, just like the allegations in the Porter case. 

Like so many fraudulent wrongful conviction claims, the story of these allegations are compelling. The poor innocent youth who were running around the park terrorizing people never made claims of police coercion until after they obtained civil rights lawyers and learned that this element was essential to recover a settlement. What a coincidence. 

The original trial judge reviewed for several months the possibility of police coercion in the original trial to determine if the confessions were legitimate, painstakingly reviewing the entire investigation and found nothing even remotely close to coercion. One of the little innocents made statements about the attack before the police even knew about it. Fairstein, a nationally renowned expert on sex crimes, overheard the youths making incriminating statements. 

Then, of course, the personal attacks begin. The prosecutor, an accomplished writer, can’t even hold a book signing without the mob attacking her. In true grace and dignity, she invites the agitators to discuss the case and no one takes her up on it. I could see Zorn in this crowd, then going home and writing a toast to them.

http://www.nypost.com/p/pagesix/fairstein_booed_at_signing_fjkmD4mPmKZvvrNxR65A9L

If only this case had gone to civil trial like the Porter case, which humiliated Zorn and compelled him to hang the lawyer who had just shown the public what a travesty it truly was, then perhaps the public could see. But the CPF activists, including that renowned truth seeker Al Sharpton, knew they only had to wait until a Democrat got elected and shazam, they got the settlement they wanted. 

Another connection between the CPF and other wrongful conviction scams is the willingness, the eagerness of activists to believe wholeheartedly the statements of a sociopathic killer, not under oath and not subject to cross examination, over the large body of evidence reviewed at trial by a jury and by appeals court judges. They cite in the CPF case the fact that Reyes has a modus operendi. He always acted alone. Review his criminal history and you will see very little clear modus operendi. He is a crazed predator who seized on all kinds of opportunities to attack and kill. He raped his own mother, committed robberies, burglaries. When the desire for mayhem arose, Reyes acted. It doesn’t matter whether he was alone or not. This is a pathetic attempt by people who actually know little to nothing about the criminal mind to present themselves as if they do. 

It’s hardly different than the claim by Northwestern that Porter was innocent because witnesses said he fired with his left hand and he was right handed, as if robberies that end up becoming double homicides follow some script. There are million reasons why Porter would move the gun to his left, including grabbing the loot from his victims. 

The activists refuse to look at the evidence that the prosecutor’s decision to vacate the convictions was controversial in his own office. Senior members in the department were furious at this decision, just as they were in the Porter case. 

Physical evidence? What physical evidence exists against Alstory Simon? Yet there he sits in prison compliments of Northwestern University. The confessions of these youths, who were already in the park wilding at the same time, are overwhelmingly indicative of guilt. Each legal proceeding that reviewed arrived at the same conclusion, as if some young woman with a political agenda can see what all these detectives, proseuctors, juries, judges and appeals judges couldn’t, not unlike the image of kids in their 20’s suddenly finding evidence in the Porter case. The offenders made statements implicating each other, trying to minimize their own conduct. Many rapes the attackers are unable to ejaculate. There is nothing unusual about it. In fact, this is exactly what police and prosecutors argued from the first moment of the case: there were other offenders than the one who left DNA. 

How telling that the City attorneys never even bothered to interview the medical staff, just as the state’s attorney released Porter based on a “confession” video they hadn’t even looked at. 

Like so many wrongful condition claims, the CPF falls apart under any scrutiny. Sarah Burns addressed this fact by simply leaving out the interviews from people who contradicted her mythology, including attorney Michael Armstrong. If you’re really interested in justice in this case, you might want to talk to him for several hours about his investigations and his dealings with Burns and her father. 

Fairstein and the detectives unfortunately fall into the same fate as the detectives in the Madison Hobley case in Chicago. They desperately wanted to get to civil trial, where they knew their investigation would hold up and Hobley would be shown to be the killer, just as the civil trial did in the Porter case. But alas, they were all sold out by the Democratic Machine. 

"It was a huge disappointment," Fairstein said before the settlement, "but litigation is ongoing and we think it will make clear their participation in the attacks."

Many of these issues were covered in a recent reading on my book, Crooked City, and my article Crossing Lines in New City, at the Chicago Public Library. The Tribune, and Eric Zorn’s behavior were a central talking point. 

As for your name calling, right back at ya, brother.  Right back at ya.

Zorn deleted the comments with this:

ZORN REPLY -- My apologies. Posts by this monomaniac are supposed to go directly to the spam filter where I can make sure he's staying on topic (which he almost never does).

How badly the lead detective in the Porter wants to sit down with Zorn and go over the Porter case. He's been waiting 30 years to talk to a Tribune writer. One wonders if Zorn will take him up on it. 

eric zorn can't hit delete button fast enough...

Already under fire for his cheerleading of David Protess and the Innocence Project in the Anthony Porter case, Eric Zorn goes silent on his writing about another Northwestern wrongful conviction case that is unraveling. 

As of late, Zorn has begun censoring his blog of any criticism for his writing about the Anthony Proter double homicide case and from comments by cops in general who have been on the receiving end of his poison ink. 

After all, his columns played a crucial role in the Anthony Porter debacle, none more so than his 2005 tirade against the attorney representing the detectives in the case after the attorney proved Porter was likely the killer in the 1982 homicides in Washington Park. Zorn, who reportedly didn't even sit through the trial and hear the evidence, went ballistic on Attorney Walter Jones after Jones told the media that he thought Porter was the killer. 

That was in 2005. If Zorn had bothered to review the evidence as the jury had, he might have known all the way back then that the Porter wrongful conviction narrative was a scam and that an innocent man, Alstory Simon, had been framed for the murders. 

Instead, Zorn blasted off on Jones for daring to contradict the Northwestern fiction.

Now comes PR executive and former journalist Dan Curry researching another double homicide case in Paris, Illinois. Curry uncovers more evidence that this case is another David Protess/Innocence Project scam. 

In a post entitled Silence of the Hams, Curry writes:

Two well-known Illinois columnists — one liberal and one not — have followed the Paris murder case closely over the years.

Eric Zorn of the Chicago Tribune and Jim Dey of the Champaign News-Gazette have written extensively about the 1986 unsolved murders of Karen and Dyke Rhoads, following even relatively minor developments. Yet each is silent about our revelations of a mystery witness whose story might hold the key to solving the murders.

They are also silent about our revelations that Northwestern University and CBS dramatically misled the public about the case, and that media-celebrated former detective Michale Callahan failed to follow up on the mystery witness lead years before law enforcement found out about it.

I have contacted both and they have told me, in essence, they have nothing left to say about the case and that they regard it a closed matter from their point of view.

Curry tries to confront Eric Zorn about the evidence. Zorn's reaction? Silence, and suddenly all Zorn's former columns on the case, the ones supporting Protess, are disappearing.

"In Zorn's case, it simply is a bridge too far to declare himself possibly wrong about the numerous columns he wrote about the case, which have disappeared from his website," Curry writes. 

Zorn is good at ruining the careers and reputations of honest, hardworking cops and prosecutors, but he's not too good at taking criticism himself. Nor is he willing to be accountable for his actions, something he often claims about cops. 

Not a pretty picture: David Protess left Northwestern in a scandal in which the University admitted he lied about his cases. Attorneys for Alstory Simon are claiming a pattern of criminal conduct at Protess' Innocence Project. The Cook County State's Attorney is reviewing the Porter case and may very well reverse it. The local media, once the champions of Protess and his "warriors," are suddenly silent. 

One wonders if Zorn is getting arthritis from hitting the delete button so much. 

Will the Tribune Return its Pulitzer Prize?

Investigative reporters at the once mighty Tribune newspaper are reportedly digging into the Anthony Porter case, a sign the paper may finally be facing the truth that it got the biggest wrongful conviction case in the state's history completely wrong.  

Preliminary indications are that investigative reporters may actually be taking a look at more than the just the Porter case. The reporters may review the entire career of disgraced former Professor David Protess at Northwestern's Innocence Project.

If only it were true.   

Protess spearheaded several crucial wrongful conviction cases, including Anthony Porter, a career thug who in 1982 gunned down a couple in a park. Not only did Protess and his students free Porter, who was clearly guilty of the murders, they incarcerated an innocent man, Alstory Simon, along the way. 

In the last few years, Protess was fired from Northwestern after the school admitted he lied about his investigations. Now prosecutors are reviewing the Porter case after a litany of allegations arose claiming Protess and his Private Investigator Paul Ciolino manipulated evidence. 

Critics of the Porter exoneration point out that it could not have taken place without the support of the media. But now the Tribune narrative is crumbling under the weight of new evidence pointing to Porter's guilt and Alstory Simon's innocence.

What will the paper to do? Will investigative reporters truly dig deep into the Protess cases? Could a major metropolitan newspaper finally acknowledge it had one of the biggest wrongful convictions completely wrong? After all, the paper won a Pulitzer Prize in part over his coverage of Porter.

Will the paper apologize to the detectives in the case, who endured six years of condemnation in the media because Tribune journalists never bothered to look at the facts? And then what will happen if the paper does investigate the Porter case? They will inevitably have to ask what other wrongful conviction claims are also false.

Certainly they will then have to take up the Madison Hobley case, an arson in which seven people were killed. Hobley was sent to death row, but was set free, just like Porter. 

How deep will it go? How many wrongful conviction claims will fall apart?

Somewhere along the way, the Tribune must account for the 2005 civil trial in which Porter's attorneys tried to sue the city, claiming the detectives framed Porter. The detectives fought for the city to take the case to trial.  

The attorney for the detectives, Walter Jones, at first believed Porter was innocent. Then he talked to the detectives and re-investigated the case, concluding that Porter was guilty. Jones walked into the civil trial and argued just that: that the only man who could be guilty of the murders was Porter. Jones and the detectives won and Porter got nothing.

After the trial, reporters asked how it could be Porter didn't get any money. Jones pointed to Porter and said that Porter was the killer.

Furious that Jones could contradict the narrative of Porter's innocence, Tribune columnist Eric Zorn wrote a scathing attack on Jones, even suggesting a lawsuit against Jones for Jones claiming that Porter was guilty.

I asked Jones about Zorn's column. 

Media Ignores Bombshell Evidence in Hobley Case

Eric Zorn missed it. Steven Mills missed it. Mike Miner missed it. 

But it's all right there, another bombshell statement in a major wrongful conviction case pointing once again to the fact that a so called wrongfully convicted man was, in fact, guilty of a heinous multiple murder.

As the evidence piles up that Northwestern University's Innocence Project knowingly exonerated a guilty man in a 1982 double homicide, Anthony Porter, and incarcerated the wrong man for the murders, Alstory Simon, more evidence piles up that Madison Hobley, convicted in a 1987 arson that killed seven people, was guilty.

This is a statement from an inmate who knew Hobley. The inmate, Darryl Simms said Hobley admitted to the murders repeatedly. Simms reportedly made these statements to federal investigators. 

The arson was a horrendous crime that killed Hobley's wife and son, along with five others. Some 17 others were also injured, many as they tried to escape the burning building. There were accounts of parents tossing their infant children from upper windows.

Hobley was freed after "journalists" like Mills and John Conroy initiated the wrongful conviction playbook against police and prosecutors.  

But the truth is that legal inquiry after legal inquiry pointed to Hobley as the offender. Hobley was not only released from prison, he was given $6 million.

Even more troubling is the fact that another central witness in the case claims Hobley's lawyer, Andrea Lyon, and a private investigator, Paul Ciolino, both came to his house and offered him a bribe to change his testimony. Ciolino has faced the same accusations from several other witnesses in other cases, including the Porter case.

Now that the Porter case is falling apart and evidence mounts of malfeasance in other wrongful conviction cases, these activists journalists refuse to admit how badly they blew it. 

Two people murdered in the Porter case, seven in the Hobley case. 

That's nine murders. 

 

   

 

When a Criminal Justice System Implodes...

What happens when a criminal justice is taken over by a small group of activists who will do anything to achieve their goals? What happens when these ideologues have the backing of the media and the academy?

Perhaps no one can tell the story better than the detectives who were in the eye of the storm.

The Cook County State's Attorney has taken up a review of the Anthony Porter case, in which career gang enforcer Anthony Porter was exonerated for a double murder and Alstory Simon took Porter's place in prison for the 1982 murders.

A dark picture emerges of the investigation conducted by David Protess, Paul Ciolino and the students at Northwestern University's Innocence Project.

And now a top prosecutor has come forward and challenged the decision to free Porter and convict Simon, adding another layer of doubt in the case and forcing a central question: Why did the State's Attorney free Porter and convict Simon in 1999?

A central detective in the Porter case describes what happened... 

Is There a Thin Red Line in Wrongful Conviction Movement?

For 14 years the Chicago Tribune published a narrative about the Anthony Porter case that was false. In publishing this narrative, they helped wrongful conviction activists at Northwestern University's Innocence Project release a murderer, Anthony Porter, and convict the wrong man, Alstory Simon.

When lawyers, cops, retired journalists attempted to show these Tribune writers and their editors that their claims were without merit, the Tribune writers vilified them.

Probably the greatest example of vilification was when Attorney Walter Jones argued in a 2005 civil trial against detectives that Porter was guilty. The jury ruled in favor of Jones and the police. Afterward, no journalists took a step back and questioned what the ruling meant. One journalist, Eric Zorn, went so far as to assail Jones for even contending that Porter was guilty.

But there is another sinister side to the story. Throughout the many years that the Porter case has unfolded, no wrongful conviction lawyers, academics or activists ever questioned the legitimacy of the Porter exoneration or the wrongful conviction of Alstory Simon for the murders. These lawyers, academics and activists made plenty of claims for wrongful conviction in other cases, none of which held nearly the evidence of corruption and fraudulence that the Porter/Simon case did, but still none of them would touch the Porter/Simon case. 

Many wrongful conviction cases include the claim that a thin blue line of secrecy compels police officers to back each other up and to lie. But the Porter case poses the same question about the wrongful conviction activists and their activists in the media. Otherwise, why wouldn't any of them have taken up the Porter/Simon case? 

After all, there was a mountain of evidence, based upon the public record, that showed how dirty the Porter/Simon case was and that Alstory Simon was clearly wrongfully convicted.  

Want more evidence? Check out Pulitizer Prize winning journalist Bill Crawford's description of trying to get coverage of the Porter case.  

State's Attorney Should not be Handling Porter Review

Take a long look at the list of exonerated offenders on this Northwestern website. Look at how many of them confessed but still had their cases tossed after Northwestern or other wrongful conviction lawyers called foul. Often these activists claimed the confessions were coerced.

According to recent news reports, Attorneys for Alstory Simon have obtained an affidavit from a former top prosecutor calling into question the decision to release Anthony Porter from death row for a double homicide and convict Simon for the same murders.  

Such an affidavit would be a bombshell in the Porter case. Taken together with all the other evidence that exonerates Simon, Simon should be set free. The state has released many inmates on far, far less evidence.  

The affidavit, for example, bolsters the 1999 Grand Jury testimony when another top prosecutor, Thomas Gainer, ripped apart Professor David Protess and his students at Northwestern's Innocence Project, revealing that they actually did little investigation into the case at all. Nevertheless, top prosecutor Dick Devine went ahead and freed Porter and let Simon go to prison. 

It now seems as if two prosecutors in the Devine administration had grave doubts about the Northwestern investigation into the Anthony Porter case.

The Porter case transformed the Illinois criminal justice system, ending the death penalty under Governor Ryan's administration. 

Even the Chicago Tribune and columnist Eric Zorn, who has been an ardent supporter of Protess and the Innocence Project admits, finally, that a special prosecutor should be brought in.  

Nevertheless, it seems that Alvarez is insisting that any review of the case stay within the boundaries of her office.  

With the affidavit from a former prosecutor criticizing the decision to free Porter and convict Simon, how can the State's Attorney appear objective? 

It's time Chicago stopped playing politics with this crucial case and followed the evidence. That's what a prosecutor is supposed to do.  

The Chicago Police Department took a beating in the Porter case, with Porter's attorneys claiming detectives framed Porter. 

Alvarez should release Porter and send the case to an outside entity in what is shaping up to be the state's worst wrongful conviction. 

She should also start asking the obvious question: If the Northwestern case is this bad, how many others are as well? 

Where is the Real Bias in the Wrongful Conviction Movement?

The issue of bias against police, prosecutors and their supporters rears its head in many media stories about the Anthony Porter case. 

Porter was exonerated for a double homicide in 1982 through the efforts of the Professor David Protess, his Private Investigator Paul Ciolino and several students at Northwestern's Innocence Project. As part of their exoneration of Porter, the Northwestern investigators claimed another man, Alstory Simon, was the offender and obtained a bizarre confession from him. Simon has recanted that confession and claims he was framed for the killings.  

As a possible example of bias on the part of those attacking the Porter exoneration and the conviction of Simon, journalists point to the fact that one of Simon's attorneys once represented former police commander Jon Burge, now in prison for perjury.    

Whether or not there is some bias operating in the actions of Simon's lawyers is difficult to prove. But the simple fact is that Simon's lawyers have amassed a wealth of conclusive evidence that the Northwestern case is bogus. Moreover, many people are calling foul in the Porter case, not just Simon's attorneys. Condemnation of the Northwestern case has arisen from various, independent sources.

What the media seems to consistently miss is the evidence of bias on the side of wrongful conviction advocates, a bias clearly alive and well at Northwestern University.  

Consider, for example, the hiring of Bernadine Dorhn by the university in 1991. Dorhn was a founding member of the Weather Underground. The Weather Underground was a group of terrorists that set off bombs throughout the country in the 70's in protest of the Vietnam War. The group also called for a Communist style revolution.

A few statements by Dorhn when she was active in the Underground shocked the country, especially her statement about mass murderer Charles Manson:

“Dig it! First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them. They even shoved a fork into the victim’s stomach! Wild!”

After this statement, it was reported Dorhn and other Weather Underground members would salute each other by making a fork sign with their hands.

 Dorhn and her husband, fellow Weather Underground founder Bill Ayers, claimed that they never hurt anyone in their bombings, but there are many who disagree. Clearly they intended to hurt people. Consider their bombing of a home of the supreme court justice in 1970   while the family was sleeping inside.

But Dorhn may even be involved in the murder of a police officer. In a bombing in 1970, a San Francisco Police Sergeant, Brian McDonnell, was killed and several officers were wounded. 

An investigation into the bombing revealed the fact that several FBI investigators believe Dohrn was responsible.

After she was hired by Northwestern, Dohrn reportedly worked on wrongful convictions for juveniles.

One has to ask how anyone could expect a person who went around advocating violence against "pigs," calling for revolution, and setting off bombs could fairly and reasonably investigate criminal cases. One has to ask about the mindset of the university that would offer such a person a job.

A disturbing picture emerges at Northwestern: A former terrorist now working on wrongful conviction cases, a professor running bogus wrongful conviction "investigations" that put a murderer back on the street and incarcerated an innocent man.  

It all begs a question: Where really is the bias in the wrongful conviction movement? 

 


 

Finally, Tribune Demands Investigation in Porter Case...

After years of ignoring all the evidence that the biggest wrongful conviction case in the state's history is a fraud, the Chicago Tribune finally endorses a special prosecutor for the case.

That's a step in the right direction, but there are still clearly alarms in the Tribune editorial. This is about the third or fourth time a Tribune piece has asserted that the facts are now so muddled in the case that possibly the truth will never be known.  

Is this the Tribune throwing up their hands as a way of ignoring their own culpability in the case? Is this a way for them to shield Northwestern University for letting David Protess conduct such fraudulent investigations?

 It's all too complicted. We'll never truly know...

And, of course, who will the prosecutor be?

Stay tuned... 

Media Complicit in Porter Case

 

No murder case points to the dangers of the too-cozy relationship between Chicago journalists and wrongful conviction advocates than that of Anthony Porter.

Porter, once sentenced to death for a double homicide in 1982, was miraculously freed from this crime through the efforts of Professor David Protess, Private Investigator Paul Ciolino and a collection of students at Northwestern’s Innocence Project in 1999. The Northwestern investigators fingered another man, Alstory Simon, for the killings and obtained a bizarre confession from him under the most extraordinary and suspicious circumstances.

Now the case is imploding as a top prosecutor has blasted the decisions to free Porter and convict Simon. A disturbing picture of malfeasance and allegations of criminal activity is emerging at the Innocence Project under David Protess, who left the school in 2011 in the wake of scandal. When the dust settled on that scandal, the school admitted Protess had lied about investigations on other cases.

The fact is that Alstory Simon likely would never have been wrongfully convicted were it not for a collection of journalists who abandoned their ethics in support of Protess. Chief among these journalists are Steve Mills and Eric Zorn from the Tribune. Had they asked the basic questions in the Porter case, a murderer wouldn’t be walking the streets right now a free man and an innocent man wouldn’t be wasting away in prison.

One incident in the case stands out among all others.

Detectives Dennis Gray and Charles Salvatore were shocked when Porter was released from prison in 1999. They were certain they had the right guy. Upon his release, Salvatore went back to all the transcripts in the case and went through it step by step. As he did so, the allegations that Salvatore and his partner had framed Porter for the murders took shape. This frame-up theory became the narrative that freed Porter. The detectives were assailed in the media.

There was a five-year period between the time the detectives were accused framing Porter and the civil trial in which Porter’s attorneys hoped to make millions. The city contracted the detectives’ case out to attorney Walter Jones, whose father had been a Chicago Police Officer. Jones originally assumed Porter was innocent, but he was struck by the passion with which Salvatore and Gray defended their investigation and their conclusion that Porter was guilty. The detectives insisted Jones return to the scene of the crime and go over the evidence. In a short period, the detectives convinced Jones that not only were they innocent of any wrongdoing, but that Porter was the killer.

Along the way, Jones discovered even more witnesses who named Porter. He also observed that retired detectives from all over the country returned to Chicago to help the detectives in the case, for it was running joke among Chicago Police Officers familiar with the case that Porter was freed.

Realizing Porter was indeed guilty, Jones called up Porter’s shocked attorneys and rejected a settlement. He told them it was going to trial.

Amazingly, after Porter’s attorneys learned Jones would not settle, the nature of the allegations against the detectives changed. Suddenly, out of nowhere, they were also accused of torturing Porter. Porter said they tried to torture him into confessing, but he wouldn’t give in. This was the first time Porter alleged torture in 16 years. There was no evidence, no witnesses, no mention of it in his appeals.  

What makes the torture allegations so incredible, aside from their suspicious timing, was the fact that neither Zorn nor Mills studied the timeline of these events, a timeline that shows clearly they could not have tortured anyone. For some reason, the clear impossibility of the detectives torturing Porter eluded Zorn, who nevertheless churned out column after column in praise of Protess and the Northwester investigators.

Nevertheless, the allegations were a prime example of what cops had been claiming for decades, that inmates were making torture claims fraudulently to make money in lawsuits and get out of prison.  

In the civil trial, Jones went into court for the detectives and argued what he privately had come to believe: Porter was the killer. He won and the detectives were vindicated.

One would think that a journalist interested in getting at the truth of a case would have found this trial compelling. He would have found the great body of evidence that Jones presented showing clearly that Porter was the killer worth investigating.

But not Zorn.

At the end of the trial, a dumbfounded journalist walked to Walter Jones and asked how it was that Porter could get no money for his years in prison. Jones answered honestly. He pointed at Porter and said “Because the killer has been sitting there all along.”

In one of the worst examples of a journalist abandoning the principles and ethics of his trade, Zorn lashed out at Jones for asserting what Jones just successful argued in court. It wasn’t just that Zorn stated he disagreed with Jones. He assailed him. He said the city owed Anthony Porter an apology. An apology for a gang enforcer, a man convicted of a double homicide? He even suggested to Porter’s attorneys that they should sue Jones for defamation. Defamation of what, one wonders, the fraudulent argument Zorn had been posing over the Porter case for 16 years?

Zorn now advocates that a special prosecutor should take up the Porter case. That's about 13 years overdue. But Zorn's behavior in the civil trial over the Porter case bely his real intentions in this case and his extraordinary bias. 

If there were an Office or Professional Standards, an Internal Affairs Department for journalists, or a collection of law firms in Chicago making an industry out of suing them, Zorn may perhaps face some justice for his conduct in the Porter case. He may be forced to resign.

This is, after all, a double homicide case and a wrongful conviction.