Crooked City

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Quinn Pardons Reveal City's True Clout


Recent pardons and sentence commutations by outgoing Governor Quinn reveal the real clout that runs the city and state, as well as the real character of those who enjoy this clout.

 Governor Quinn secretly, and without explanation, released a man, Howard Morgan, from prison this week, a man who tried to murder four police officers in 2005. Three of them were wounded. The case played out in two arenas, the court of law and the court of public opinion. In the court of law a vast body of evidence pointed to the guilt of Morgan, who shot the police officers during a traffic stop on the west side.

 As the case unfolded, a vast public relations machine perfected over thirty years in Chicago was unleashed against the cops. Some of this public relations propaganda trickled into the courtroom. In this campaign, no accusation against the cops was off limits: racist executioners, robbers, incompetents, thugs, conspirators, all these were leveled against the four police officers in an Al Sharpton-like campaign, against officers who were merely investigating the sound of gunshots in an area filled with violence.

 There was also the strange alliance of race agitators with credentialed academics in this case. These well-dressed talking heads with advanced degrees tried to put a civilized face on the street hustle to free Morgan and vilify the officers.

 It had some effect in the first trial. There was bitter discord among the jurors. A few held out for Howard, to the disgust of the other jurors.

 A hung jury was declared.

 But the second trial was another story. In this trial, Morgan’s attorneys had exhausted every legal trick, every conspiracy theory. The jury came back in a few hours: Guilty on four counts of attempted murder.

 Morgan got 40 years. All his appeals failed.  

 Case closed, right?

 Nope. In the waning moments of his scandal-plagued administration, Democratic Governor Pat Quinn secretly commuted Morgan’s sentence. He did so without even talking to the officers to hear their side of the story, to hear what they had gone through that night and in the years during the trial. Quinn just took a knife and stuck it in their backs, not only to these officers, but to the entire law enforcement community.

 It must be powerful juice, indeed, to compel someone in such a prestigious position as governor into such a dirty, cowardly, despicable act; that is, juice coupled with an elected official already lacking in any moral character.

 But there are other measures of the clout behind this decision. Consider the reaction in the city to the fact that four officers were almost murdered and the shooter against them walked out of prison in defiance of the entire legal system that convicted him.

 Did newly-elected Governor Rauner address the outrage?

 No. The Governor who says things are going to change in Illinois didn’t say a word about it.

 Did Mayor Emanuel, the man who expects the police to patrol some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the city condemn the decision and make a public statement about how badly the officers had been betrayed?


 Did the Aldermen? No, they kept silent like a collection of obedient sheep.

 Did the media? Stupid question. This is a city with newspapers like the Chicago Tribune, the Sun Times, and the Chicago Reader, who have obtained their news stories from this public relations machine for 30 years. Nothing scares them more than having to admit what this machine actually is.

 Did the prosecutor? Well, Alvarez did denounce the decision…for about thirty seconds.

 It’s nice to know when you are a cop in Chicago, the entire political, legal, and media establishment has your back, especially when someone pulls a gun on you and guns you down for no reason.  

 In the public relations court, the party line will be sold that Quinn was acting from some higher purpose, that his actions were in some way heroic.

 But who are the real heroes in the Morgan narrative, four cops who were fired upon as they investigated a possible shooting, who acted courageously and legally in the worst scenario a police officer can face, even to the point of ceasing to fire at Morgan when he ran out of bullets, even though he had just fired on them 17 times, the cops who endured almost ten years of persecution in the media by Morgan and his supporters, but pressed on with their case based on evidence, along with state’s attorneys Dan Groth and Phyllis Porcelli Warren, who, denied a closing argument in the first trial, slowly and methodically took a legal knife to the theories posited by Morgan’s attorneys in the closing argument of the second trial, until the defense case was little more than a legal corpse on the courtroom floor?

 Or was it Governor Quinn, who sneaked into his office, signed the commutation papers in secret, without any explanation, and than ran off into the night so that he would not have to answer questions, undermining everything these officers and prosecutors had endured and accomplished over a decade?

 Who are the real heroes?

 To understand specifically who are the people that have such powerful clout, one only has to look at Quinn’s other commutation in his last days.

 Consider the sentence commutation of Willie Johnson, for example. Johnson was the central witness in a wrongful conviction scam by Northwestern University's law school.

 The wrongful conviction movement, which began in Chicago, is based on getting inmates out of prison by claiming some police or prosecutorial oversight or abuse.

 This movement has extorted hundreds of millions of dollars from cities and states in lawsuits over inmates they have gotten out of prison. They are relentless, and little care what actually happened in a crime. The Howard Morgan case is proof enough of that, for it was the same players and strategies working on behalf of Johnson that were also employed in getting Howard Morgan out of prison.

 Over the last 30 years, they have amassed great political and legal clout. Judges fear them. Prosecutors fear them. Spineless governors fear them. Quivering journalists fear them, so much so that letting out killers has become an industry in the Crooked City.

 Back to Johnson.

 Johnson was a gang member who had been shot along with two other gang members in a gang dispute. The other two men died. It was Johnson’s testimony that put two offenders in prison for the murders. As is the case in so many wrongful conviction bids, suddenly Johnson emerged after some 17 years to recant his trial testimony about the two men who shot him.

 Johnson’s recantation was the lynchpin in Northwestern Law School's wrongful conviction claim. Northwestern lawyers hoped Johnson's recantation would spring the two offenders from life sentences. Once freed, they would no doubt seek a multi-million dollar settlement.

 But Northwestern’s plans hit a speed bump. Johnson made his recantation statement in court. Both the prosecutor and the judge in the case rejected Johnson’s story. They said he was lying.

 In a rare moment when the legal system actually stood up to the kind of wild, fraudulent claims Johnson and Northwestern were making, Alvarez charged Johnson with perjury.

 Johnson pled guilty and was sentenced to prison.

 What a moment. A witness brought forth by one of the nation’s most powerful law schools in an attempt to free two killers is deemed a liar, and he pleads guilty to perjury. One would think such a story would garner tremendous coverage. Not so, the wrongful conviction movement has enough juice to stymie that.

 But the Johnson case did not involve just Northwestern. Much of the entire wrongful conviction community participated in his bid to fraudulently free two killers.

 The investigator who reportedly traveled to Lousiana to obtain the recantation from Johnson, for example, works for the law firm Loevy and Loevy. Lawyers from the University of Chicago's Law School also represented one of the inmates trying to get out prison. 

 It was University of Chicago’s Law School that was working on behalf of Howard Morgan.

 What a coincidence.

 One wonders. How could Johnson's recantation be so clearly fraudulent to a judge and the prosecutor, but not be clear to all these wrongful conviction lawyers?

 Well the Howard Morgan case sheds light on that question: Because the wrongful conviction community doesn’t really care whether their clients are guilty or not. They just want to get them out of prison.

 Then they want to parade around in their classrooms, seminars, and panel discussions telling everyone how evil the police and prosecutors are and what advocates they are for the downtrodden (by foisting a killer back on their community?).  

 But of course, in order to do this, they have to have a bunch of lackey politicians in their back pocket, people like Governor Quinn.  

 Johnson being sent to prison was a sign that the story might finally break on how the wrongful conviction syndicate works, right? It sends a powerful message to anyone thinking of lying in a murder case, right?

 Hardly. Before Johnson even had to change his sheets in his cell, Quinn secretly signed off on his commutation, and Johnson was on his way home, just like Morgan.

 That’s just the way it works in the Crooked City.