Crooked City

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Just wondering...

"History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce..."

This quote from the wrongful conviction movement's favorite philospher, Karl Marx, takes on new meaning in the wake of the latest news about the Anthony Porter case.

According to news reports, attorneys for Alstory Simon have obtained an affidavit from a top prosecutor in the Anthony Porter murder case when Porter was exonerated and Alstory Simon was convicted. In the affidavit, the prosecutor says he had reservations about the decision to free Porter and convict Simon. 

For many people who have looked into this case, there is already ample evidence that the Porter exoneration was a sham. In a Grand Jury held in 1999, prosecutor Thomas Gainer questioned David Protess at Northwestern University and his students. Under Gainer's questioning, the Northwestern case fell apart. At one point, Protess admitted he hadn't even spoken to four of six witnesses in the case.

An affidavit by a top prosecutor is a bombshell. In response, State's Attorney Anita Alvarez has taken up a review of the case. 


What was going on in the prosecutor's office in 1999? If two top prosecutors had doubts about Porter's innocence and Simon’s guilt, why did that office let Porter go free? Why would they convict Simon?

Why would the prosecutor come forward with such a crucial affidavit 14 years after the fact? What kind of public servant would let his office free a cold-blooded killer like Anthony Porter and convict Alstory Simon while harboring doubts about his guilt? Why wouldn't this public servant come forward right away? 

Not only did this prosecutor remain silent while his office put a killer on the street and convicted the wrong man, but his silence put the Chicago Police Department through hell. At one point, half a dozen detectives were facing allegations that they framed Porter. Eventually that number went down to two. Those two detectives faced six years of allegations that they framed Porter and had to fight the city to get their case to go to trial. 

How should Chicago cops feel about prosecutors when they hear something like this? 

So, what is Alvarez going to do? Is she going to dig into the mess of her predecessors and call them to task? Is she going to open this can of worms?

Alvarez has been dealing with Northwestern and Protess for a long time. Her office uncovered evidence of malfeasance against Protess in another unrelated case, malfeasance that led to Northwestern firing Protess and admitting Protess had lied to the school about his investigations. Alvarez subpoenaed a great deal of evidence in this case, including some 500 emails from Northwestern. Do these emails contain even more bombshells?  

What about the local media like the Chicago Tribune?

A once venerable newspaper in the a thriving city is mired in the scandal as well. 

The journalists who failed in their obligation to review facts about the case have left the paper between a rock and hard place. The Tribune won a Pulitzer Prize in part for its coverage on the Porter case. Did a major American newspaper win a Pulitzer on a fraudulent case? It looks like it did. 

Not only did none of the journalists at the paper ask elemental questions, they didn't even notice that Protess and his students didn't ask them either. For example, Protess and his students claimed the detectives framed Porter, but Protess and the students never even bothered to interview the detectives. What kind of journalism was Northwestern peddling to its students? Who in the media accuses people of crimes yet makes no effort to hear their side of the story? What kind of journalists at the Tribune never even noticed these glaring inconsistencies in the case? 

One reason may be that the journalists at the Tribune were more interested in advocating for a cause than investigating. These journalists, like Steven MIlls and Eric Zorn, seem to have been more interested in ending the death penalty than looking at facts. 

But what about the rest of the paper, now? Writers with more character, more integrity, like John Kass and Dennis Byrne, would normally attack corruption like this. But now it seems the paper is calling for silence; no one has heard a peep out of them. 

When Protess was claiming Porter was wrongfully convicted, the paper was covering it extensively. Now, nothing.

Finally, there's Northwestern University. The affidavit by the prosecutor puts more pressure on them, more evidence that Protess' cases were dirty. Is it enough that Northwestern simply fired Protess? What about Alstory Simon, still sitting in prison, a wrongfully convicted man? How can the school leave him hanging, yet still have two departments devoted to freeing the wrongfully convicted?

"History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce..." 

Perhaps it's time Northwestern went through each one of Protess' cases, releasing their findings to the public. 

There's a lot of reason for the entire Crooked City to cover up the Porter case. But there are documentaries being made, books being written, journalists outside the city covering it.  

There's just so much evidence...