Sometimes you have to piece things together a bit.
A few months back we had some contentious exchanges (see here, plus the whole comment thread if you like) with a police officer turned author and, let’s face it, cop party line mouthpiece named Martin Preib, who is in on the ground floor of the budding ‘wrongful exoneration’ movement.
There are powerful interests at stake. Mostly these interests are law enforcement, and like all powerful interests they have resources and the ability to organize and coordinate. You could call it a conspiracy, although that’s not my preferred term.
In any case, this whole Anthony Porter-Alstory Simon cluster-fuck is heating up again in the windy city (registration required), generating a little (very little) traffic over here. If you’re interested in the details it’s outlined in the linked article.
What’s important here, though, is this part of the article:
But to say so — to call this yet another example of law enforcement screwing up — is to contradict the cherished narrative of Simon’s supporters, a narrative that says Simon is a victim of the innocence movement, railroaded into prison by critics of the justice system and their media handmaidens who wanted to erode public confidence in the death penalty by proving Porter was innocent.
And, to be sure, the reason this case is still worth front-page headlines 15 years later is that Porter’s spectacular exoneration sparked the doubts about capital punishment in then-Gov. George Ryan. Those doubts led to a moratorium on executions, to the mass commutation of all death sentences in Illinois and, in 2011, to the abolition of the state’s death penalty.
And the reason that two attorneys known for defending law-enforcement officials took up Simon’s case and that one of the attorneys who defended the legendarily brutal Chicago police Cmdr. Jon Burge is bankrolling an upcoming documentary about Simon is to advance the cherished narrative.
Featuring prominently in all this is an attorney named Terry Ekl.
I don’t know Mr. Ekl personally, but here he is representing Michael McFatridge in the United States Supreme Court.
After Fields v. Wharrie and Whitlock v. Brueggemann out of the 7th circuit, it appears that Chicago is ground zero in the wrongful conviction wars. One side is very active and organized with strong support; the other side apparently has no organization at all and works ad hoc.
But most distressing to us is that lawyers elsewhere should be very aware of what’s going on in Chicago, but as far as we can tell we’re the only ones.