Chicago Settles Wrongful Conviction Cases for $20M a Piece

Several former defendants who were convicted on charges related to a single officer are now plaintiffs in lawsuits against the city claiming that they were framed. If you think it is hard to prove a defendant did something wrong, then you should consider how difficult it is to prove that a police officer framed a defendant. In this case, four men settled lawsuits for sums between $17 million and $21 million against the City of Chicago for false convictions, cooked evidence, and losing years of their lives to false accusations of a single police officer.

There are still eleven lawsuits pending against the same officer, all of which name the city and not the officer. Ultimately, the City of Chicago and its taxpayers will be responsible for making the victims whole. With 11 pending cases, all settling for $20 million or more apiece, the City of Chicago is looking at a $300 million budget shortfall all related to the activities of one police officer.

Hundreds of “confessions” tossed

The officer is accused of forcing witnesses to testify against defendants. In a number of these cases, prosecutors dropped charges against the officer which prevented him from invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The officer had routinely pled the fifth in these proceedings, but you can only plead the fifth when you are about to say something that incriminates you. By dropping the charges, the prosecutors prevented the defendant from pleading the fifth.

However, the scheme did not work. After the charges were dropped and the officer was placed on the stand to answer questions directly about individual cases, he told the court that he “couldn’t remember” confessions or how they were elicited. Before tossing the confessions, the judge characterized the officer’s response as a “bald-faced lie” and proceeded to vacate the convictions. Now, the defendants are suing because, in at least some cases, they lost up to 20 years of their lives to a dirty cop who always took the easy way toward a collar.

Settlement hearings and civil suits

The City of Chicago now has a serious problem. The key witness in several criminal cases refuses to testify on the state’s behalf to help them get convictions. Further, convictions the state secured because of the testimony of the officer are now being vacated because the officer refuses to answer questions concerning the confessions and how they were elicited. The City of Chicago is now considering options for settling the remaining cases. In four lawsuits, they have already lost nearly $80 million. 

Thus far, the officer has not been charged with a crime. While the state has reviewed allegations of perjury in at least one case, they said they did not find enough evidence to pursue charges. 

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

David Freidberg represents the interests of those charged with major crimes in the Chicago area. Call our office today at (312) 560-7100 and we can begin preparing your defense to the charges immediately. 

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