Wrongful convictions and the imprisonment that follows can be the bane of any criminal justice system. In an effort to ameliorate the effects of the wrongful convictions of four men, The Chicago City Council recently approved a settlement with four men who were wrongfully convicted of rape and murder in 1994. The case represents a significant triumph for the criminal defense lawyers who represented the four men.
The case involved the 1994 rape and strangulation of a Chicago woman. Four teenagers were convicted of participating in the crime. An internal FBI report said that the defendants, who were teenagers at the time, had been pressured by investigators into giving false confessions. They were ultimately exonerated by DNA evidence in 2011 linking the murder to a deceased career criminal. The judge issued certificates of innocence to each of the four. The four men had served between 15 and 18 years before they were exonerated.
The December 13 council meeting which approved the payment sparked significant controversy. A police union official angrily claimed that “powerful evidence” showed the four men had been involved in the crime. Two aldermen also argued against the payment. The published report of the settlement did not indicate how it was calculated. One of the aldermen noted that the amount of the settlement was significantly less than the $70 million the quartet had originally demanded.
This case demonstrates the importance of retaining capable and committed defense counsel. Reversing a jury verdict in the trial court is a difficult task, and the result here shows what can be accomplished by a thorough review of the evidence and using up-to-date detection techniques.
Source: wpxi.com, “Chicago approves paying $31M to 4 wrongfully convicted men,” Dec. 13, 2017