Thursday, June 21, 2007

Prosecutors who knowingly convicted innocent men go unpunished

The articles in The News & Observer and The Chicago Tribune have a common theme -- Prosecutors who break the rules go unpunished. Indeed, they are often rewarded with promotions, even being appointed judges.

In one exoneration, however, someone at least attempted to make the prosecutors criminally responsible. Rolando Cruz and Alejandro Hernandez were wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death for the 1983 kidnaping, rape, and murder of 10-year-old Jeanine Nicarico in DuPage County, Illinois. Click here to read the details.

In the aftermath of the Cruz trial, a special grand jury indicted four sheriff's deputies and three former prosecutors for their roles in the Cruz case. Charges included perjury and obstruction of justice. Although a DuPage County jury acquitted these men of those charges, the County later agreed to pay $3.5 million to settle the civil rights claims that Cruz, Hernandez, and Stephen Buckley (a third defendant who had been charged in the crime) had filed in federal court.

DuPage County was punished for the misconduct, but not the 3 prosecutors who knowingly convicted innocent men.

1 comment:

Kitty said...

There were some heroes in this case. One of them was Mary Brigid Kenney:

From the Chicago Tribune 11/30/05

Mary Brigid Kenney's first assignment as an Illinois assistant attorney general was to prepare written and oral arguments defending Rolando Cruz's conviction and death sentence. She examined the case, found what she considered numerous errors in the investigation and prosecution and urged then-Illinois Atty. Gen. Roland Burris to "confess error" and reconsider his position. She believed Brian Dugan had acted alone in the attack. That was in February 1992.

Burris responded by taking her off the case. She resigned March 5, 1992, and wrote a memo to Burris, which stated, in part: "I was being asked to help execute an innocent man. Unfortunately, you have seen fit to ignore the evidence in this case."