From the Chicago Daily Observer:
She hasn’t had any suspects murdered in their beds yet, so that would make Anita Alvarez only the second worst state’s attorney in the modern history of Cook County. (The top of this dubious list goes, of course, to the late Edward Vincent Hanrahan whose police squad slaughtered Black Panthers Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in a notorious predawn raid of their apartment in December 1969.)
However, she matches Hanrahan for bull-headedness and, for want of a better word, sadism. She fights like a tiger to keep prisoners locked up even though courts and appeals have exonerated them of the crimes for which they have been imprisoned; she also appears to have been involved in cover-ups of miscues by her office and is given at times to ludicrous over-charging.
She fought for years to keep Daniel Taylor imprisoned for a murder to which he confessed but couldn’t have committed—he was in police custody when it happened. Yet now she’s investigating whether Alstory Simon’s confession—to a murder for which Anthony Porter came within two days of execution—may be false.
Unlike Taylor’s confession, Simon’s was corroborated by other credible evidence. The primary difference between the two confessions is that Taylor’s was obtained by police and Simon’s by a defense investigator.
As Rob Warden the retiring head of Northwestern University’s Center on Wrongful Convictions puts it, “Her Conviction Integrity Unit reminds me of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth.”
Alvarez also fought hard but unsuccessfully against the appointment of a special investigator in the case of David Koschman who was killed by a punch from R.J. Vanecko, a nephew of then-Mayor Richard M. Daley. There’s strong evidence that the police and state’s attorney’s office spent years covering for Vanecko, who only recently confessed and served jail time.
It was she who decided to charge the “NATO 3” with official “terrorism.” They were trio of drunks and stoners who made crackpot threats about attacking Barack Obama’s headquarters with slingshots and other such idiocies. A couple of undercover Keystone Kops helped them assemble primitive Molotov cocktails, which were never used nor did the stoners take any action during the NATO meetings here.
Terrorists? The charge was so laughable the jury immediately tossed it, though it convicted them of possessing the weapons the undercover cops helped them make.
Her latest gambit is seeking perjury charges against witnesses who have recanted previous testimony that have put people into jail and even onto death row. What this would do, of course, is discourage people from eventually coming forward, recanting and admitting their errors. This would keep more innocent people in jail. Wonderful.
A host of former judges, US attorneys, law school deans and professors of all political persuasions recently wrote her asking in the name of justice not to go through with the perjury charges. But, as I have noted before, Alvarez appears uninterested in justice—rather in self-aggrandizement and protection of her office even if the innocent suffer.
The real crime here was committed by the citizens of Cook County who re-elected her.