Crooked City

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Sun Times: City Memo a Bombshell in Porter Case...

A Sun Times story reveals a secret memo in which Chicago's Corporation Counsel called the decision to free Anthony Porter and indict Alstory Simon "political":

A political decision was made that this case should be put to rest because it caused too much publicity against the imposition of the Death Penalty, caused great doubt about the validity of death penalty punishment for mentally challenged individuals and incited a significant amount of negative press concerning Death Row reversals,” the memo said.

The four-page memo outlined the key evidence in the case against Simon that led to Porter’s release, including Simon’s confession. The city’s attorneys noted Simon’s wife gave a statement implicating him in the 1982 killings. She later recanted that statement on her death bed.

The memo also said there was still compelling evidence against Porter, including statements from seven witnesses, one of whom later died. One witness, Kenneth Edwards, told a grand jury in 1999 — after Porter was freed — that he saw Porter pull the trigger and kill Jerry Hillard and Marilyn Green in the bleachers near a pool in Washington Park on the South Side.

Another man said Porter robbed him of $2 at gunpoint on the pool deck just before the killings on that warm day, Aug. 15, 1982.

Still, the state’s attorney’s office was comfortable releasing Porter, despite the evidence against him, because he served some prison time, the memo said.

So even city attorneys knew the Porter exoneration was garbage?

Here are some crucial parts to the story:

The Sun Times article says the city memo describes that there was some justice in the fact that Porter served 16 years. What's shocking about this fact is the absolute indifference towards the police department. Detectives in this case were dragged through the mud for six years because of the exoneration. This release of Protess initiated a flood of similar wrongful conviction claims that vilified police officers who did nothing wrong. Many of these cops endured nightmarish civil trials. Some of these killers were paid millions. The damage this wrongful exoneration did to the police does not seem to even enter the minds of the prosecutors. Nice to know how easily prosecutors will roll over on the slightest claim of wrongful conviction. 

The story cites one of the then city attorneys in the memo. Here's what she said: 

“All the evidence lined up against Anthony Porter,” adding that the circumstances leading to Porter’s release and Simon’s prosecution “seemed very, very fishy.”  

Gee, ya think? So if Brown has believed all these years that Porter is likely guilty, what has she done about it? How has she helped Alstory Simon get out of prison? How come she didn't initiate a call for an investigation into Northwestern's practices? She is, after all, a member of a board whose duty is to represent cops. 

Another comment in the article is most troubling. Prosecutors accepted Simon's plea after they had gathered a large body of evidence that Simon was innocent and Porter was guilty. Nevertheless, prosecutors accepted Simon's confession. When asked why he didn't reveal the evidence exonerating Simon to the judge in the case, Devine said this:

“Judge Fitzgerald, I am certain, was aware of that background,” Devine said.

So prosecutors omitted mentioning the evidence that Porter was guilty and Simon innocent even as Simon confessed, because, well, ya know, I'm sure the judge already knew...

The same was true for the attorney "representing" Alstory Simon. Attorney Jack Rimland got up and allowed his client to confess without pointing out to the judge that there was all this troubling evidence that his client had nothing to do with the murders. 

Finally, the story reveals one sordid fact about the media that Eric Zorn has always denied: the immense media pressure placed on the prosecutors' office played a roll in their decision to free Porter and convict Simon. Those reporters, Zorn, Mills, Possley, Miner, clearly never bothered to look into the facts. They merely went around echoing the absurd blames of Protess and his Northwestern students. Mills and Zorn should be fired.