Crooked City

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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?