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Federal Jury Sides with Plaintiff in Wrongful Conviction Suit

A jury found that a defendant who spent more than 20 years behind bars for a double murder was intentionally framed for the incident by police. The defendant was awarded a new trial after he successfully argued that his criminal defense attorney failed to call witnesses to the stand that would have corroborated his alibi. These witnesses claimed that the defendant was inside of a restaurant playing Pac Man at the time of the double shooting. The only witness that the prosecution offered was a man who was allegedly shot by the defendant during the double murder and the brother of one of the victims. It was the defendant who called police to the scene of the crime to report the shooting. Let that be a lesson on the perils of involving police in any matter at all.

After vacating his conviction, the defendant filed a lawsuit against Chicago police and the city. The complaint alleged that the arresting officer called the suspect a racial epithet and said that no one cares about Black people, which is why the officers would get away with it. A federal jury returned an award of $25.2 million to the plaintiff. 

The lineup

Police had no evidence against the defendant specifically including evidence that he was involved in a drug deal. The strategy they employed was to feed the witness information about the description of the suspect and then pick him out of a lineup. In other words, there was never an honest attempt made at investigating what happened. The police were merely looking for a Black face on which to pin the charges.

The civil defense strategy

In a case like this, the city and defense have an incentive to scare the plaintiff off their lawsuit. They do this by attempting to prove that the original prosecution got the whole thing right and the situation unfolded exactly the way the prosecutors said it did. Nonetheless, both prosecutors and defense attorneys ignored evidence that the defendant was involved in the shooting. This gave the defendant the opening he needed to vacate the conviction. Thus far, Chicago prosecutors have not attempted to retry the defendant. Instead, they lost a massive jury award. So the strategy backfired. 

However, the civil defense team echoed the prosecution’s case at every turn. They claimed the lineup was not rigged, and that the defendant had ties to street gangs. The prosecution would not have believed the defendant’s alibi because all of the alibi witnesses were fellow gangsters or associates. However, the tables have turned since that conviction, and public sentiment is no longer on the side of the police. 

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you are facing charges related to a major crime in the Chicago area, call the attorneys at David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 to set up an appointment and we can get the ball rolling on preparing a vigorous defense to the charges.

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