LeRoy Martin, Jr., the Cook County judge presiding over the Dante Servin expungement denied an expungement request after he was acquitted of a fatal shooting during an off-duty altercation with a female bystander.
Judges can consider the strength of the prosecution’s case when deciding whether an expungement is warranted. While there will not be a conviction on his record, the charges will still be available through public records.
Servin faced a bench trial before Judge Dennis Porter. Police officers often request bench trials in these types of situations to avoid juries who may not be sympathetic to their cause. This is especially true in Chicago where police have earned themselves a less-than-stellar reputation as guardians of the community.
Servin was charged with involuntary manslaughter, a prosecutorial decision that confused many. Judge Porter said that the charge of involuntary manslaughter was inappropriate to the crime and acquitted him on that basis. He also said Servin should have been charged with first-degree murder.
Analyzing What Happened in Light of the Charges
It is hard for Chicagoans to believe that police have their best interests at heart amid corruption scandals, suspicious shootings, and acquittals after those shootings. The Servin case was not much different and, in many ways, perhaps worse.
Had Servin been charged with first-degree murder, the outcome may have been much different. The state had two years to build and present a case and saw fit to charge Servin with involuntary manslaughter, also known as criminally negligent homicide. For most of us, firing a gun into a crowd of people would not require an intent to kill a specific person for it to be charged as murder-one. In what many saw as a political compromise, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez charged Servin with involuntary manslaughter.
While involuntary manslaughter is often seen as a reduced charge for murder, it actually has specific requirements for proof. These requirements were not met in the case against Servin, leaving the judge with no other option other than to acquit. Essentially, prosecutorial discretion took the possibility of a conviction off the table. In the end, the case was dismissed before the defense even presented a single piece of evidence.
Servin retired before a hearing concerning his dismissal in 2016, allowing him to retire with a $60,000 a year pension. Meanwhile, Rekia Boyd’s family continues to pay taxes that fund the disgraced cop’s pension.
Sealing vs. Expungement
After the decision was made to deny the expungement, Servin moved to have his records sealed. Expungement and sealing are two different things in Illinois. Some states only allow those charged or convicted of crimes to seal their records from public access. Expungement essentially destroys public record of the charges entirely. In the case of Servin, both motions were denied. Typically, only those acquitted of crimes may file for expungement.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a crime and then acquitted, you can file a motion to have the charges expunged. If you were convicted, you may still be allowed to have your records sealed, depending on the nature of your crime. Chicago defense attorney David Freidberg can help you do both. Call us today at (312) 560-7100 for more information.