WBEZ | Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez http://www.wbez.org/tags/cook-county-states-attorney-anita-alvarez Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Anita Alvarez assigns new task force to review convictions http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-02-03/anita-alvarez-assigns-new-task-force-review-convictions-96085 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2012-February/2012-02-03/Alvarez_Kate Dries.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Last week <a href="http://www.statesattorney.org/" target="_blank">Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez</a> joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to talk about a recent case in which her office dropped charges against four men who confessed to a rape and murder when they were teenagers because new DNA evidence did not match any of the suspects.</p><p>During last week's show, Alvarez briefly mentioned a new unit to deal with these kinds of cases. In a speech Thursday to the City Club of Chicago, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/alvarez-new-unit-will-prevent-wrongful-convictions-96082" target="_blank">Alvarez offered more details</a> on what her office is calling the Conviction Integrity Unit, which will look into cases where the defendant is claiming innocence.</p><p><br> &nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 03 Feb 2012 14:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-02-03/anita-alvarez-assigns-new-task-force-review-convictions-96085 New Cook County task force investigates wrongful convictions http://www.wbez.org/story/new-cook-county-task-force-investigates-wrongful-convictions-96071 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-18/RS2753_anitaalvarez.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez announced Thursday the creation of a task force that will focus on investigating cases that have led to wrongful convictions. The staff of the new Conviction Integrity Unit includes three assistant state’s attorneys, two investigators and one witness specialist.</p><p>Recently several convictions have been overturned in Cook County including one case involving four men who spent 15 years in prison for rape and murder.</p><p>Alvarez said the Conviction Integrity Unit is a way of addressing prior wrongful convictions.</p><p>"In my view my job is not just about racking up convictions, it is about always seeking justice," Alvarez said. "Even if that measure of justice means that we must acknowledge mistakes of the past."</p><p>According to Alvarez, the unit will focus particularly on cases involving confessions with little or no supporting evidence and those involving juvenile defendants, among others. She says the unit has begun working on 35 cases in which the defendants claim they are innocent.</p></p> Thu, 02 Feb 2012 22:16:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/new-cook-county-task-force-investigates-wrongful-convictions-96071 Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez discusses wrongful convictions http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-26/cook-county-states-attorney-anita-alvarez-discusses-wrongful-convictions <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//segment/photo/2012-January/2012-01-26/grendelkhan.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/attorneys-seeking-innocence-certificates-englewood-4-95634" target="_blank">Four men are seeking certificates of innocence</a> after prosecutors dropped rape and murder charges against them last week. They each spent more than 15 years in prison and the cases come on top of another five men who were recently released for a 1991 murder, which makes nine people in the last few months in Cook County alone.&nbsp; <a href="http://www.statesattorney.org/" target="_blank">Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez</a>&nbsp; joined <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em> to discuss how her office has been revisiting these difficult cases. WBEZ criminal and legal affairs reporter Robert Wildeboer has been covering these cases and joined the conversation with some additional background.</p></p> Thu, 26 Jan 2012 14:48:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-26/cook-county-states-attorney-anita-alvarez-discusses-wrongful-convictions Despite DNA, Alvarez not ready to drop case http://www.wbez.org/story/despite-dna-alvarez-not-ready-drop-case-94204 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-18/RS2753_anitaalvarez.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Four men who had their convictions thrown out last week because of DNA evidence aren't in the clear yet.</p><p>Last week Cook County Judge Paul Biebel ordered new trials for four men who had been convicted of raping and murdering a woman in 1994. At that time, the four teenagers gave confessions, but new DNA testing shows semen taken from the victim belonged to a man named Johnny Douglas who had murder and rape convictions. He had also been interviewed by police but told them he didn't know the victim.</p><p>Despite the evidence, Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez hasn't ruled out retrying the four.</p><p>Stuart Chanen represents Vincent Thames, who spent 17 years in prison for the crime. "We're frustrated that they're leaving us hanging out here, but we are convinced of the innocence of our clients, the evidence of their innocence is overwhelming, and we're very confident that in the next few days the state's attorneys will finally step up and do the right thing," Chanen said.</p><p>Alvarez's office says they're reviewing the judge's decision and don't have further comment.</p></p> Mon, 21 Nov 2011 11:00:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/despite-dna-alvarez-not-ready-drop-case-94204 Cook County added to the list of those suing Kankakee, Channahon http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-added-list-those-suing-kankakee-channahon-92760 <p><p>Joining the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/kankakee-mayor-fires-back-lawsuit-chicago-rta-91333">City of Chicago</a> and the <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/rta-sues-kankakee-and-channahon-90939">Regional Transportation Authority (RTA)</a>, Cook County is suing the Illinois towns Kankakee and Channahon for millions in alleged lost revenue.&nbsp;Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Monday that the two cities have allowed Chicago companies to divert paperwork through the towns to avoid paying higher sales taxes.</p><p>"This type of practice in any municipality or government is fundamentally wrong, and we're determined to protect interests of our Cook County government, and those businesses that are complying with the law," said Preckwinkle.</p><p>The county also wants the names of the businesses allegedly diverting these funds; they haven't been revealed because the city government claims that would violate contracts.</p><p>Though State's Attoney Anita Alvarez said "this promises to be a complex piece of litigation," Cook County is filing separately to better its odds that it will recoup money. Additionally, if Cook County piggybacked on the exisiting lawsuit, it would have to pay for the outside legal counsel retained by the City of Chicaog.&nbsp;"I have confidence that we have the ability in house, to be able to do this," said Alvarez.</p><p>The county also hopes the lawsuit will reveal the names of the companies allegedly diverting the paperwork.</p><p>When asked if the lawsuit would drive businesses out of Chicago, and even potentially out of the state, Preckwinkle said, "I don't believe so. I think they do business in Cook County because they find our workforce and our transportation and our infrastructure conducive to our businesses, and I don't think that's going to change if we make them comply with the law."</p><p>The mayor of Kankakee has said the town is doing nothing illegal.</p></p> Mon, 03 Oct 2011 17:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/cook-county-added-list-those-suing-kankakee-channahon-92760 Nine arrested on sex trafficking charges in Cook County http://www.wbez.org/story/nine-arrested-sex-trafficking-charges-cook-county-90985 <p><p>Chicago authorities say nine people arrested on sex trafficking charges enslaved girls as young as 12.</p><p>Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez on Wednesday announced the results of a long-term undercover investigation. The investigation was conducted under the provisions of the Illinois Safe Children's Act, which was signed into law last year. It allows for the use of wire taps, which experts say is a new practice for states.</p><p>Lynn Johnson is with the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation. The organization helped draft the legislation. Johnson said the law also makes a shift treating minors as victims instead of criminals.</p><p>"The way things have been for a long time is that law enforcement would enforce prostitution offenses by arresting and re-arresting the women and girls who are being prostituted. If we don't hold the pimps and traffickers and people who buy sex accountable, it means the industry thrives," she said.</p><p>Four of the defendants appeared in court Wednesday and were ordered held on bonds up to $1 million. The other five are scheduled to appear in court Thursday. Alvarez says dozens of girls and young women were intimidated and beaten into prostitution.</p><p>Experts estimate at least 16,000 girls and women are involved in Chicago's commercial sex trade.</p></p> Wed, 24 Aug 2011 20:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/nine-arrested-sex-trafficking-charges-cook-county-90985 The Weekly Political Roundup: February 7th – February 11th http://www.wbez.org/blog/best-game-town/2011-02-11/weekly-political-roundup-february-7th-%E2%80%93-february-11th-82182 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Gery Chico Debate_Getty_Scott Olson.JPG" alt="" /><p><p style="text-align: center;"><img height="328" align="middle" width="456" alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-February/2011-02-11/Gery Chico Debate_Getty_Scott Olson.JPG" /></p><p style="text-align: left;"><br />Whew. We&rsquo;re just over a week from the municipal elections, and things are getting hot in the race for Chicago mayor - even if it&rsquo;s cold outside.&nbsp; According to the latest <a href="http://www.chicagobreakingnews.com/news/local/ct-met-chicago-mayor-race-0211-20110210,0,5959045.story?track=rss&amp;utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ChicagoBreakingNews+%28Chicago+Breaking+News%29"><em>Chicago Tribune</em> poll</a>, Gery Chico is cutting away a bit at Rahm Emanuel&rsquo;s lead, raising Chico&rsquo;s hope of forcing a runoff. Emanuel is at 49%, Chico at 19%. Meanwhile, Carol Moseley Braun&rsquo;s support has dropped to 10% and Miguel del Valle&rsquo;s at 8%.</p><p>In response to an earlier <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/metro/3728938-418/tv-mayor-poll-emanuel-in-lead-chico-a-distant-second.html">ABC7 poll</a>, Braun says: <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Moseley-Braun-Accuses-Pollster-of-Lining-Rahms-Pockets-115753604.html">don&rsquo;t believe &lsquo;em</a>. The polling heightens the drama between Chico and Emanuel; this week both revealed their <a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/emanuel-chico-unveil-plans-to-slash-spending/">plans to cut spending</a>. For starters, Emanuel says he&rsquo;d cut $75 million within 2 months of taking office. He declined to say what he&rsquo;d do about the city&rsquo;s underfunded pensions. Still, Chico&rsquo;s plan was less specific; though he&rsquo;s indicated in the past that he&rsquo;d favor a 2-tiered pension system, where Emanuel is more likely to cut pensions across the board.<br /><br />That split has city unions supporting Chico; labor is thought to be behind this <a href="http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/11089542/?listtype=ALL">xtranormal video</a> (swear warning!). More officially, public employee union leaders are <a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/labor-seeks-money-for-emanuel-rebuttal-ad/">hoping to create</a> an ad rebutting Emanuel&rsquo;s <a href="http://www.chicagoforrahm.com/rahmtv/">new commercial</a> (called &ldquo;Service&rdquo;) that says &ldquo;city government is not an employment agency.&rdquo; Chico also picked up a slew of <a href="http://progressillinois.com/quick-hits/content/2011/02/07/endorsements-citizens-actions-slew-skilled-trades-unions?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ProgressIllinois+%28Progress+Illinois%29">trade union endorsements</a> this week, including one from <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/wire/chi-ap-il-chicagomayor-chic,0,2821968.story">firefighters</a>. Emanuel picked up endorsements from the <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/editorials/ct-20110204-mayoral-endorsement,0,6092899.story"><em>Tribune</em></a> and the <em>Sun-Times</em> (both late last week), along with Illinois secretary of state <a href="http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/clout_st/2011/02/jesse-white-endorses-rahm-emanuel-for-chicago-mayor.html">Jesse White</a>, and former city inspector general <a href="http://www.chicagonewscoop.org/hoffman-endorses-emanuel-for-mayor/">David Hoffman</a>. <br /><br />And we continue to learn more about the candidates: for one, all say they <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/3731413-417/soldier-field-safe-under-next-mayor.html">wouldn&rsquo;t sell</a> naming rights to Soldier Field. But in more serious matters, the LGBT <em>Windy City Times</em> is out with an <a href="http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=30420">election guide</a>, including answers from the candidates to their own questionnaire.</p><p>Also this week, the WCT hosted <a href="http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/gay/lesbian/news/ARTICLE.php?AID=30508">a forum</a>&mdash;but only half the candidates (Emanuel, Braun, del Valle) attended due to <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/chicago-defender/after-blizzard-induced-scheduling-conflict-mayoral-candidates-scramble">a conflict</a> with a <a href="http://progressillinois.com/quick-hits/content/2011/02/10/all-mayoral-candidates-share-stage-first-time?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ProgressIllinois+%28Progress+Illinois%29">C<em>hicago Defender</em> forum</a>. All six candidates made it there, sharing the stage in total for the first time during this campaign. All also agreed that African-Americans deserve reparations for slavery, though Emanuel&rsquo;s suggestion that the funds be used for economic development drew a testy response from Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins. Then, on Thursday, Fox Chicago held another forum with all six candidates&mdash;you can watch it in total <a href="http://www.myfoxchicago.com/dpp/news/elections/emanuel-chico-moseley-braun-del-valle-watkins-walls-chicago-mayor-forum-20110211">on their site</a>. <br /><br />In other mayoral campaign news, former Governor Rod Blagojevich made <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/3345611-418/blagojevich-emanuel-staff-trial-gov.html">a cameo</a> when his attorneys <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-us-blagojevichtrial-,0,2339978.story">filed a motion</a> claiming a conversation between him and Emanuel was missing from prosecutors&rsquo; evidence. <a href="http://blogs.suntimes.com/blago/2011/02/rahm_responds_to_missing_blago.html ">Emanuel said</a> no worries&mdash;he didn&rsquo;t do anything improper in any conversations with Blago. Finally, be sure to check out <em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>&rsquo;s one-on-one interviews with the mayoral candidates. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-08/chicago-mayoral-candidate-miguel-del-valle-campaigns-reformer-81970">Del Valle</a> and <a href="http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-02-10/chicago-mayoral-candidate-carol-moseley-braun-82097">Braun</a> were both on this week; the rest of the candidates are expected to be on next week. <br /><br />As for the aldermanic races, several are getting attention in the media this week. The open race for the <a href="http://progressillinois.com/posts/content/2011/02/08/checking-aldermanic-races-29th-ward?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ProgressIllinois+%28Progress+Illinois%29">29th ward</a> (formerly Isaac Carothers&rsquo; domain) got a write-up from Progress Illinois, as did <a href="http://progressillinois.com/posts/content/2011/02/10/checking-aldermanic-races-35th-ward?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ProgressIllinois+%28Progress+Illinois%29">the 35th</a>.&nbsp; The <em>Tribune</em> had <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chicago/ct-x-c-43rd-ward-race-0209-20110209,0,2929340.story ">a story</a> on the race to replace Vi Daley in Lincoln Park&rsquo;s 43rd ward. The <em>Sun-Times</em>&rsquo; <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/marin/3722368-452/50th-ward-last-not-least-in-drama.html">Carol Marin says</a> this may be the toughest race incumbent 50th ward alderman Bernie Stone has ever faced. And Greg Hinz has <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/section/blogs?blogID=greg-hinz&amp;plckController=Blog&amp;plckScript=blogScript&amp;plckElementId=blogDest&amp;plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&amp;plckPostId=Blog%3a1daca073-2eab-468e-9f19-ec177090a35cPost%3a0d640dc5-7c93-4c5b-8a9a-98952ed845ea&amp;sid=sitelife.chicagobusiness.com#axzz1DfvrzQh9">a wrap-up</a> of a forum he moderated in Uptown&rsquo;s 46th ward. Meanwhile, the <a href="http://progressillinois.com/quick-hits/content/2011/02/08/ctu-announces-endorsements-city-council?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ProgressIllinois+%28Progress+Illinois%29">Chicago Teachers Union</a> and <a href="http://progressillinois.com/news/content/2011/02/09/sierra-club-announces-endorsements-city-council-races?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ProgressIllinois+%28Progress+Illinois%29">Sierra Club</a> endorsed candidates for City Council. <br /><br />Meanwhile, the current City Council <a href="http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/clout_st/2011/02/city-council-approves-chicago-firefighter-contract-with-2-percent-raises.html">voted for</a> a 2 percent raise for city firefighters. Airport concession workers are also hoping for a raise&mdash;and a <a href="http://progressillinois.com/posts/content/2011/02/09/concession-workers-chicagos-airports-want-keep-jobs-earn-living-wage?utm_source=feedburner&amp;utm_medium=feed&amp;utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ProgressIllinois+%28Progress+Illinois%29">proposed city ordinanc</a>e would provide a boost.</p><p>Speaking of airports, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood this week <a href="http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chibrknews-feds-no-ohare-pact-yet-in-airlinescity-talks-20110209,0,749809.story">mediated a meeting</a> between Mayor Daley and the heads of United and American Airlines, with no apparent breakthrough on the issue of O&rsquo;Hare expansion.</p><p>And speaking of concessions, the Taste of Chicago will be <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/section/blogs?blogID=greg-hinz&amp;plckController=Blog&amp;plckScript=blogScript&amp;plckElementId=blogDest&amp;plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&amp;plckPostId=Blog%3a1daca073-2eab-468e-9f19-ec177090a35cPost%3a00ffaf18-bf0e-4c97-bc1a-664b187fadc5&amp;sid=sitelife.chicagobusiness.com#axzz1DfvrzQh9">scaled back</a> this year, as Daley hands control of the festival to the Park District.</p><p>Also this week, <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/3719623-418/daley-defends-surveillance-cameras-wants-more.html">Daley defended</a> the city&rsquo;s use of surveillance cameras after the ACLU <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2011/02/08/133600852/in-report-aclu-questions-chicagos-vast-network-of-surveillance-cameras">issued a report </a>saying they violate citizens&rsquo; privacy.</p><p>And <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/section/blogs?blogID=greg-hinz&amp;plckController=Blog&amp;plckScript=blogScript&amp;plckElementId=blogDest&amp;plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&amp;plckPostId=Blog%3a1daca073-2eab-468e-9f19-ec177090a35cPost%3aa13bc66b-b062-4bfe-8bf4-64ac2f9ce17c&amp;sid=sitelife.chicagobusiness.com#axzz1DfvrzQh9">another report</a> this week reviewed the city&rsquo;s pension funds and found them underfunded by $5.1 billion in the past decade.</p><p>Going beyond the city, Cook County State&rsquo;s Attorney Anita Alvarez <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/3738014-417/more-than-100-in-states-attorneys-office-to-get-pink-slips.html">began the process</a> of laying off more than 100 staff members, a day after <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/3721274-418/preckwinkle-alvarez-wrangle-over-10-percent-cuts.html ">pushing back</a> on Board President Toni Preckwinkle&rsquo;s request to make cuts.</p><p>In state business, meanwhile, House Speaker <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/3725598-417/madigan-open-to-discussing-cuts-in-state-pensions.html">Michael Madigan said</a> he might consider cuts to state pensions. And the Senate <a href="http://www.sj-r.com/top-stories/x167307357/Senate-moves-to-eliminate-loophole-in-state-officials-appointment-process">approved a bill</a> eliminating a loophole that allowed the Governor to indefinitely appoint &ldquo;acting&rdquo; heads of state agencies without getting Senate approval. <br /><br />For Illinois politics in the national realm, Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk are asking for <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/weather/stories/lake-shore-drive-lake-michigan--115527719.html">a federal review</a> of Lake Shore Drive after last week&rsquo;s blizzard caused major problems there (though, for the record, <a href="http://www.nbcchicago.com/weather/stories/lake-shore-drive-lake-michigan--115527719.html">a poll</a> found that Chicago residents were happy with the city&rsquo;s blizzard response).</p><p>Finally, <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/section/blogs?blogID=greg-hinz&amp;plckController=Blog&amp;plckScript=blogScript&amp;plckElementId=blogDest&amp;plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&amp;plckPostId=Blog%3a1daca073-2eab-468e-9f19-ec177090a35cPost%3a2924e4af-1da5-4ced-bab6-d61b6d958194&amp;sid=sitelife.chicagobusiness.com#axzz1DfvrzQh9">Greg Hinz says</a> it looks like several congressmen are already gearing up for the next election&mdash;look out.<br /><br />That&rsquo;s it for this week in review&mdash;let us know if you think we missed anything, and have a great weekend.</p></p> Fri, 11 Feb 2011 18:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/best-game-town/2011-02-11/weekly-political-roundup-february-7th-%E2%80%93-february-11th-82182 Study shows minority drug offenders more likely to recieve prison sentence in Illinois http://www.wbez.org/story/anita-alvarez/study-shows-minority-drug-offenders-more-likely-recieve-prison-sentence-illinois <p><p>A new report finds that African Americans in Illinois are five times more likely than whites to be sent to prison for low-level drug offenses. A state commissioned study looked at arrest data from 102 counties including Cook.&nbsp;</p> <div>Pamela Rodriguez is Director of Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities, or TASC, a non-profit agency that assisted in the study. She said the data available for the study was lacking and better data centralization is necessary in order to understand racial disparity in the justice system.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>&ldquo;Not only is it 102 counties,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;But if you understand the police are separate from the courts, which are separate the prosecutors, which are separate from the public defender, and all have independent data systems as well.&rdquo;</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>The report makes recommendations for policy changes such as offering alternative treatment options for drug offenders, and removing barriers to employment for drug-related arrests that do not end in conviction.</div> <div>&nbsp;</div> <div>Critics of the report, including Cook County's State's Attorney Anita Alvarez, charge it was based on too small of a case sample, and failed to take into account the role that gang membership plays in drug arrests and sentencing.</div></p> Mon, 31 Jan 2011 21:05:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/anita-alvarez/study-shows-minority-drug-offenders-more-likely-recieve-prison-sentence-illinois