WBEZ | Jacques Riviera http://www.wbez.org/tags/jacques-riviera Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Exoneree Diaries: Justice moves slowly for Jacques http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-justice-moves-slowly-jacques-110858 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/jaques_0_0_0_0_6.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;They owe me an apology. Because for them to file charges, they have to view everything. And they knew. They knew that I didn&rsquo;t do this crime. But they continued. But they went on with it. But they prosecuted me for it. They knew. They knew.&rdquo;</em></p><p><strong>IN A NARROW, BLUE-CARPETED COURTROOM</strong>, Jacques&rsquo; lawyer, famed Chicago attorney Jon Loevy, paced, bespectacled in thick frames, his beat-up Altra &ldquo;zero-drop&rdquo; running shoes barely making a sound &ndash; except in contrast to his sharp gray suit.</p><p>&ldquo;All rise!&rdquo;</p><p>A routine hearing, Jacques&rsquo; case against the city and the late 80s gang crimes detectives was now more than two years old.</p><p>Jacques didn&rsquo;t need to show up at hearings like these. He relied on his lawyers for the highlights and carried on his work, physically exhausting as it was, running deliveries while taking care of his mother, who had been hospitalized for a host of medical issues.</p><p>His lawsuit against the city argued that notorious Chicago Police detective Reynaldo Guevara, along with others, conspired to fabricate false evidence in the case, including manipulating the only eyewitness to the shooting &ndash; a 12-year-old kid named Orlando Lopez.</p><p>Jacques wasn&rsquo;t allowed to get in touch with Orlando. Now a family man living in Ohio, Orlando recanted his more than 20-year-old testimony against Jacques.</p><p>&ldquo;I wanted to let him know it&rsquo;s OK,&rdquo; Jacques said. &ldquo;It wasn&rsquo;t his fault. He was a child at the time.&rdquo;</p><p>The fill-in judge, Mary Rowland, did some basic housekeeping on the case: was this ready, was that ready. She asked the legal teams if they had finished the lineup project yet. The evidence was intended to prepare for trial arguments about whether there had been an undisclosed second lineup in the case, as Orlando had remembered.</p><p>But the matter at hand on the late August day was to determine if Jacques&rsquo; lawyers would get the chance to check out old police files. They wanted to nail down what they suspected to be true &ndash; that for years, Chicago Police had kept separate street files from its regular files when investigating a case, never to be turned over to a defendant&rsquo;s trial lawyers. If true, it could amount to constitutional violations spanning many cases, Jacques&rsquo; included.</p><p>&ldquo;Part of what you&rsquo;re saying is are there documents, notes, writings mostly by gang crime unit people that have not been produced, that were not produced to Mr. Rivera during the criminal case?&rdquo; asked Rowland.</p><p>Representing the City of Chicago, Eileen Ellen Rosen said she had already checked, and there wasn&rsquo;t anything of value to the case.</p><p>&ldquo;Gang crimes doesn&#39;t exist anymore,&rdquo; she said matter-of-factly. &ldquo;CPD does not know of any, doesn&#39;t require or maintain any files that are unique to gang crimes.&rdquo;</p><p>But the city&rsquo;s old gang crimes files &ndash; dozens of file cabinets &ndash; could not be found. Loevy wanted access to a room at Area North headquarters, believing the gang files would be there.</p><p>&ldquo;You&#39;re telling me that there&#39;s no need to let Mr. Loevy to go down there and look for these documents?&rdquo; the judge asked.</p><p>Rosen argued the process could take years and wasn&rsquo;t doable.</p><p>&ldquo;What&rsquo;s missing are the notes,&rdquo; Loevy insisted to Rowland. &ldquo;The gang officers are still operating in the Jones Wild West. Those gang files existed. They have not been located. They are just simply missing.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We&#39;re proposing going to a room that has file cabinets and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of files and weeding through and going through the paper and going back to what, 1960, to 1962, then based on a hunch or whatever, and then what?&rdquo; Rosen said.</p><p>Rowland granted the request with some limits, satisfying neither side of the case. Rosen, she decided, would get a first pass at the room, checking &ldquo;every nook and cranny,&rdquo; and then would report back so Loevy could review anything she uncovered.</p><p>&ldquo;We had hoped that we would be part of the search process,&rdquo; Loevy chimed in. &ldquo;There&#39;s no downside to letting us observe it. Maybe we don&#39;t touch anything? Maybe we just look over her shoulder? What is the downside to having us observe the search?&rdquo;</p><p>The judge paused, hesitant. &ldquo;My thought in having her down there is so your search could be more efficient,&rdquo; she answered.</p><p>&ldquo;This is an important search and it seems weird that we wouldn&#39;t be there,&rdquo; Loevy reasoned.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not weird,&rdquo; Rosen snapped at him. &ldquo;There&#39;s no reason that anybody needs to be looking over my shoulder. I&rsquo;m an officer of the court!&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;We would like to participate! We could go faster!&rdquo; Loevy negotiated.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s no reason they can&rsquo;t take my word for it,&rdquo; Rosen told the judge.</p><p>&ldquo;We could help! What&#39;s the downside?!&rdquo; Loevy volleyed for Rowland&rsquo;s attention.</p><p>&ldquo;We don&#39;t want other people rummaging through the files,&rdquo; Rosen said.</p><p>The judge cut in the back and forth. &ldquo;This is my main concern. If there is a single piece of paper about this case, I want it in his hands.&rdquo;</p><p>Rowland offered to go herself and check it out, collecting chuckles from the room. But Rosen, she decided for the second time, would get to go alone to the file storage room.</p><p>&ldquo;Can we get some kind of index? Get some kind of record?&rdquo; Loevy asked, grasping for a win.</p><p>The judge proposed sticky notes to keep things straight.</p><p>The hearing had stretched later than anticipated. Loevy thanked Rowland for the allowance. She nodded and called up the next case on the docket.</p><p>&ldquo;Sorry to keep you all waiting,&rdquo; Rowland said to a defendant wearing a prison uniform.</p><p>The defendant stepped up the bench. &quot;Fascinating, judge,&quot; he said.</p><p>Loevy and Rosen each cracked a smile and left.</p><p>The case was far from over. Soon, Rosen would need to depose Jacques.</p><p>Once again, he would tell his story.</p></p> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 07:56:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-justice-moves-slowly-jacques-110858 Exoneree Diaries: Jacques takes steps in the right direction http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-jacques-takes-steps-right-direction-110735 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/jaques_0_0_0_0_5.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><em>&ldquo;Everybody wants to be a part of something greater. At least I do.&rdquo;</em></p><p><strong>THE END OF THE YEAR</strong> brought more frustrations for Jacques. He was ready for a fresh start in 2014.</p><p>He had had some harsh words with his daughter when she called him explaining she needed $600 to repair the Infinity car he had given her. She asked him what she should do.</p><p>&ldquo;Take the bus!&rdquo; Jacques said.</p><p>He called the following morning to apologize. He told her it wasn&rsquo;t her fault; he had been upset with himself because he was cited for two tickets in one day &ndash; parking and speeding. He explained to her that he wasn&rsquo;t feeling that great about money. Or cars.</p><p>Jacques had been losing his temper at work too. A few episodes. And when he went to the holiday<br />party, after a long Thursday on the clock, he kicked back a couple. He hadn&rsquo;t eaten and was tired.</p><p>He threw up.</p><p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s why I don&rsquo;t drink,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>His friends at Northwestern, the people who worked on his case, were worried about him, so Jacques found his way to a therapist. Her office was nestled somewhere inside Chicago&rsquo;s labyrinth office and shopping space, the Merchandise Mart. They were to meet once a week on Tuesdays.</p><p>&ldquo;I knew I needed it,&rdquo; Jacques said. &ldquo;She&rsquo;s really accurate about a lot of things.&rdquo;</p><p>Jacques learned about &ldquo;misdirecting&rdquo; his anger. Soon, he would talk about how admitting you have a problem is the first step. He would learn about making healthy decisions.</p><p><br /><strong>SIX MONTHS LATER</strong>, the July sun lit up a softball park near Northwestern University&rsquo;s Chicago campus on a Friday afternoon. Law school students and a few exonerees were playing another team from a nearby school.</p><p>Jacques showed up in the early afternoon in his Northwestern delivery uniform to watch the game.</p><p>&ldquo;What&rsquo;s happening?&rdquo; Jacques said, side-hugging, chest-bumping and then back-slapping his longtime friend, fellow exoneree Juan Rivera, who had just been up to bat.</p><p>&ldquo;You on lunch break?&rdquo; someone said.</p><p>&ldquo;Lunch break?&rdquo; Jacques echoed, as if to ask &ldquo;what&rsquo;s a lunch break?&rdquo;</p><p>In fact, he had just wrapped up an 8-week break from work, having smashed his hand on the job.<br />He fractured and nearly broke his pinky finger, the type of injury that will put a delivery guy out of work for a bit.</p><p>&ldquo;Watch your hand!&rdquo; the supervisor had warned as they were moving a table.</p><p>Bam.</p><p>Jacques wore a cast for six weeks and went through physical therapy for another two weeks before returning to work.</p><p>During his time off, he learned about the professional social network LinkedIn.</p><p>&ldquo;I want to learn how to get in the LinkedIn thing.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;LinkedIn?&rdquo; someone watching the softball game asked.</p><p>&ldquo;This young lady, I want to try to get a hold of her,&rdquo; Jacques explained, collecting stares from his friends.</p><p>&ldquo;She&rsquo;s a nonprofit organization professional,&rdquo; he went on. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re trying to start a nonprofit organization.&rdquo;</p><p>Innocence Demands Justice would be the name, Jacques decided. He wanted to save the innocent &ndash; or at least try.</p><p>&ldquo;Maybe she can assist us, help guide us.&rdquo;</p><p>Jacques paused to watch the game. He liked hanging out at the park. A month earlier, he had stopped by Chicago&rsquo;s annual Puerto Rican Day parade. When some friends invited him to join, he was hesitant.</p><p>The parade was known for its gang presence. His buddies assured him the old guys wouldn&rsquo;t be out. Just some new Latin King kids. It&rsquo;s not like it used to be.</p><p>After taking in the parade, they went over to the old neighborhood in Humboldt Park. Police cars were all around.</p><p>&ldquo;What happened?&rdquo; Jacques asked.</p><p>Some people had been shot, he was told.</p><p>He left.</p><p>Jacques avoided going out in public with his family. He didn&rsquo;t feel it was safe.</p><p>He also didn&rsquo;t like being recognized around the neighborhood. Did people remember his face from the news of his wrongful conviction &ndash; or from his past life in the gang?</p><p>Jacques didn&rsquo;t like being left to wonder.</p><p>&ldquo;See ya!&rdquo; he told his buddies.</p></p> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 15:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/exoneree-diaries-jacques-takes-steps-right-direction-110735 Chapter 5: Jacques' adventure http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/chapter-5-jacques-adventure-109340 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/jaques_0_0_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><em>&quot;I love the snow. Wintertime is my favorite time of year. It was just beautiful, standing around the rocks, standing by the edge.&rdquo;</em></p><p><strong>&ldquo;HOW COME YOU HAVEN&rsquo;T</strong> had a license in 20 years?&rdquo; the driving test proctor asked.</p><p>Jacques told her his story. He had been telling it a lot.</p><p>He was nervous behind the wheel again, but his older sister Linda had let him take her car around the block a time or two for practice. It felt strange. All the buttons on the dashboard surprised him whenever they lit up.</p><p>Just like riding a bike, he kept saying to himself. But the parallel parking wasn&rsquo;t.</p><p>&ldquo;Let&rsquo;s just go back,&rdquo; the proctor told him. &ldquo;You&rsquo;ll do just fine.&rdquo;</p><p>It was the written portion of the test, infamous in Illinois, that was the most difficult.</p><p>&ldquo;The signs were hard!&rdquo; Jacques says.</p><p>He passed, and Linda let him drive back home.</p><p><strong>ANOTHER SISTER </strong>Candida, the youngest of six siblings, flew in from California after the New Year, a few months after Jacques&rsquo; release. She had faithfully visited him about twice a year during his incarceration &mdash; one time unsuccessfully, on his birthday when the prison suddenly went on lockdown.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s his birthday!&rdquo; Candida had cried in the parking lot. &ldquo;And he&rsquo;s in this crappy-ass place! I came all the way from California. I&rsquo;m right here, and I can&rsquo;t get in.&rdquo;</p><p>So it took some getting used to, seeing him in the flesh. No pat-downs, no long wait.</p><p>Candida came to Chicago to take Jacques on a trip across the country. They called it their &ldquo;Donnie and Marie Adventure.&rdquo; They were close like the Osmonds, and people told Candida that she looked just like Marie.</p><p>Jacques felt ready for the undertaking, eager for some open air away from the cramped apartment he shared with his mother.</p><p>The adventure started at the airport. Jacques had never been on a plane before.</p><p>&ldquo;He was very nervous,&rdquo; Candida remembers.</p><p>Jacques sat next to the window, headphones on, eyes shut.</p><p>He didn&rsquo;t ask for anything to drink.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re not going to get anything to drink?&rdquo; Candida asked him.</p><p>&ldquo;No, I don&rsquo;t want to get up.&rdquo;</p><p>He chewed his gum to stay calm, a habit not unique to the plane ride.</p><p>&ldquo;His gum is his thing,&rdquo; his sister Rose attests. &ldquo;He just loves gum. In prison they couldn&rsquo;t have gum.&rdquo;</p><p>For the next three months of the Donnie and Marie Adventure, he chewed his gum almost nonstop.</p><p><strong>THE FIRST STOP</strong> for Jacques and Candida was the Grand Canyon. It was snowing, magnificently.<br /><br />Jacques couldn&rsquo;t believe the cactus everywhere. It seemed more like a movie than real life.<br /><br />&ldquo;He loved it,&rdquo; Candida says.</p><p>Las Vegas was another story. Jacques didn&rsquo;t gamble, and the crowds put him on edge. He didn&rsquo;t feel secure. He was overwhelmed, paranoid.</p><p>Even more of a damper was put on the trip when Jacques left his cell phone in a taxicab. A family friend, his grade school sweetheart, had given him the phone soon after his release.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re gonna need this,&rdquo; she had said, putting him on her plan and even upgrading him.</p><p>They called every Las Vegas cab company they could find, but had no luck recovering the phone.</p><p>&quot;I was furious because I have no phone,&quot; Jacques remembers. &quot;I lost my contacts and everybody that I called.&rdquo;</p><p>He also lost pictures of the new memories he had created since being out.</p><p>But a chance meeting and photo opportunity with famed Chicago Bears player Brian Urlacher cheered him up.</p><p>&ldquo;Hey, Brian!&rdquo; Jacques casually said to the linebacker as he passed by the taxi stand they were waiting in outside Caesar&rsquo;s Palace.</p><p>His sister didn&rsquo;t see him.</p><p>&ldquo;Brian? Who&rsquo;s Brian? Who do you know named Brian?&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Brian Urlacher!&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Brian Urlacher?!&rdquo; Candida jumped out of the line to find him.</p><p>The night of his release, media cameras had captured shots of Chicago Bears apparel sported by<br />Jacques and his sons. Jacques was draped in a Chicago Bears jacket. One of his sons wore an Urlacher jersey, and the other gave his dad a Walter Payton jersey as a homecoming present. Shortly thereafter, a Chicago TV sports program hosted Urlacher and asked him about having that kind of impact. He was blown away.</p><p>Candida had to find him for her brother.</p><p>&ldquo;You go this way! I&rsquo;ll go this way!&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Jacques followed orders, but was wary of separating.</p><p>They were told he went inside a tent in the hotel courtyard where a Vaudeville-style show &ldquo;Absinthe&rdquo; was to go on.</p><p>Candida bought tickets for the show. They got inside, but couldn&rsquo;t spot him. Finally, an usher helped them out.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not supposed to tell you, but there&rsquo;s a gentleman meeting that description right behind you,&rdquo; the usher whispered.</p><p>Candida approached Urlacher and apologized for interrupting. Would he let them have a photo?</p><p>Absolutely. They even stayed for the show.</p><p><strong>THE FINAL LEG</strong> of Donnie and Marie&rsquo;s adventure was back in Dana Point, Calif., where Candida lived. She took him to Hollywood and at a Venice Beach souvenir shop, Jacques bought a trophy, shaped like an Oscar, with the words &ldquo;World&rsquo;s Best Lawyer.&rdquo; For Jane.</p><p>Candida welcomed Jacques into her church in nearby Laguna Beach. The parishioners of Saint Mary&rsquo;s Episcopal Church had been praying for Jacques over the past year as he neared his unexpected release, and they were excited to meet him.</p><p>&ldquo;They were expecting a thug,&rdquo; Candida remembers. &ldquo;A lot of them have never encountered somebody like Jacques. They were expecting what you see on TV. So when they saw him, they thought he was well-mannered, polite, well-spoken. They were very amazed.&rdquo;</p><p>The bishop, visiting one Sunday, brought him up to the altar to join her in the final blessing.<br />Jacques was touched, almost in tears.</p><p>Candida&rsquo;s priest was able to pull some strings and get Jacques a brief meeting with Father Greg<br />Boyle, the Jesuit priest who founded Homebody Industries, a program that works with former gang members, helping them break free and move on with their lives. Candida had bought him a signed copy of Father Greg&rsquo;s book, &ldquo;Tattoos on the Heart,&rdquo; in which the priest recounts his two decades working with homies in Los Angeles.</p><p>Jacques, a former Latin King, passed down to him by his father, had left the gang life behind in prison. A newfound faith like Jacques&rsquo; was the only way the Kings would let someone go; otherwise, an exit could be dangerous.</p><p>He was able to leave without incident. But back on the outside, ghosts from his past tried to catch up with him.</p><p>&ldquo;Hey, what&rsquo;s up, Brother? Amor!&rdquo; they would say to him back in Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;Don&rsquo;t say that to me, man,&rdquo; Jacques answered, shaking his head. He was through with gang love.</p><p>Turned out their tour guide at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles had the same kind of story.</p><p>&ldquo;Before I was this thug and gang member,&rdquo; he told them. &ldquo;Now I&rsquo;m the assistant director of this place. I used to have gang members in my cell phone. Now I have the mayor of L.A. in my cell phone.&rdquo;</p><p>A new kind of rank, Jacques thought, picturing himself. One that reforms, redeems.</p><p><strong>THE ADVENTURE HAD LASTED THREE MONTHS</strong> when both brother and sister knew it was time to go. Candida needed to get back to her life, and Jacques missed being home in Chicago. The two had been practically inseparable, except for a men&rsquo;s Bible study here and there that Jacques would attend with church folks.</p><p>Jacques made the trip back alone. At the airport, Candida talked to an agent to see if she could accompany him through the concourse before saying goodbye.</p><p>&ldquo;He really doesn&rsquo;t want to be by himself,&rdquo; she explained. &ldquo;Can I go through security with him?&rdquo;</p><p>Candida got to see him off at the gate. As he walked away from her on to the jetway, she envisioned herself walking away from him, as she had many times, painfully, after many prison visits.</p><p>&ldquo;Every time we would go visit him, I hated leaving,&rdquo; Candida says. &ldquo;We would go up the stairs. He wouldn&rsquo;t leave until he couldn&rsquo;t see us anymore.&rdquo;</p><p>Candida would always turn around and look back at him. Jacques would be there, waving and saying &ldquo;Bye! I love you!&rdquo; with a wide grin stretched across his face.</p><p>From the jetway, Jacques turned around, looked back at his sister and waved. She waved back and watched until she could no longer see him.</p></p> Tue, 10 Dec 2013 13:02:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/exoneree-diaries/chapter-5-jacques-adventure-109340