Court of Appeals Orders Release of Imprisoned Chicago Mother

As reported (here) in the Chicago Tribune, Nicole Harris will be freed no later than noon on Monday from Dwight Correctional Center as a result of two court actions. She’s served seven years of a 30-year sentence after being convicted of murder in the death of her four-year-old son, Jaquari.  As reported on this blog and the Chicago Tribune (here), last October a federal appeals court, ruling that Jaquari’s older brother, Dante—five at the time—should have been permitted to testify, reversed Nicole’s conviction. On Wednesday, the 7th Court of Appeals ordered Harris’s release from prison.

The Appeals Court also issued an extension to the Cook County state’s attorney on the question of whether or not to retry Harris.

In May 2005, Jaquari was found with an elastic bedsheet cord around his neck. His older brother Dante had told authorities that Jacuari, while playing Spider-Man, had wrapped the cord around his own neck. However, the trial judge did not allow Dante to testify. Prosecutors have argued that he had given conflicting reports.

The only evidence supporting Nicole’s guilt was a confession, which the Chicago Tribune reported (here) followed a 27-hour interrogation. The average police interrogation is about two hours. Harris said that the interrogation was coerced and that the death of her son was accidental.

The interrogation tactics of Cook County (IL) have been raised in numerous reversed convictions and gained national attention when CBS’s 60 Minutes dubbed Chicago the “Confession Capital of the World.” (See report here)

Harris has been represented by Alison Flaum, an attorney with Northwestern University Law’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, and the law firm of Jenner & Block. Congratulations to the Center and the dedicated pro bono lawyers from Jenner & Block.

4 responses to “Court of Appeals Orders Release of Imprisoned Chicago Mother

  1. Docile Jim Brady – Columbus OH 43209

    ¿ 27 hours ? !
    Chicago is slipping .
    Should be 1500 to 2500 minutes max .
    I speculate that with some props , I could have a confession in under 1000 minutes w/o HOH boarding or trauma marks .

    IMLO , the best way to avoid conflicting reports is to politely* tell interrogators that your Esq.s will furnish all the information that they feel is germane to the situation .

    * Offering to help find a horse for their ride into town may be considered rude or lacking civility .

  2. 27hours of interrogation? My son endured 6 days of interrogation, no lawyer present, no audio or video recording and it was done in the process of plea dealings. Everything he said under pressure was then used against him as in the plea deal he was to testify against his co-defendant, but in the end prosecutors decided not to use him as a witness. So they offered him 54 years. He was pressured, had many coerced testimonies in this case. Someone should investigate Colorado. Chicago is not the only city with high wrongful convictions

  3. Pingback: Coerced Confessions Obscure Justice | Wrongful Convictions Blog

  4. Pingback: Cook County Prosecutors Drop All Charges Against Nicole Harris | Wrongful Convictions Blog

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