Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



Opinion: Why police shooting cases need outside prosecutors

Tuesday, February 02, 2016
Chicago Sun-Times
by ANAND SWAMINATHAN AND JOSHUA TEPFER

 

In the aftermath of highly publicized police shootings, a number of states around the country have enacted reforms requiring special prosecutors to investigate police shootings, and many other states are considering them. Chicago, more so than any other jurisdiction, needs to implement this reform.

The demand for special prosecutors is a result of the following dynamic: Local prosecutors work with police officers every day, and depend heavily on officer testimony to obtain convictions. This creates an inherent conflict of interest for a local prosecution office when the police themselves are investigated.

The conflict of interest is exacerbated in Chicago. This is because Cook County has a one-of-a-kind process for major crimes called “felony review,” which creates an especially close, collaborative relationship between local prosecutors and police.

Here’s how it works: When a Chicago police officer seeks felony charges against an arrestee, he calls the Felony Review Unit of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. This unit works 24 hours a day and prosecutors are on call for 12-hour shifts. The prosecutor on duty then makes a decision to either approve felony charges, permanently reject them, or reject them pending further investigation.

Serious cases such as homicide, sexual assault, and armed robbery, however, are “mandatory personals,” meaning that in the most high profile crimes prosecutors are required to go to the police station and participate in the investigation. There, they interview and obtain signed statements from witnesses or, in cases where arrestees allegedly confessed to police, the suspects themselves.

In any criminal trial that follows, the felony review prosecutor invariably testifies that the statement is accurate and voluntary. And this testimony almost always sinks the accused: “Why would an attorney put her career on the line to frame the defendant?” the trial prosecutor almost always successfully argues.

The appropriate question, however, is not whether the prosecutor framed the suspect, but if the prosecutor was in a position to ferret out police overreaching. The prosecutors assigned to the unit are often young and inexperienced. It is naďve to think that they could stare down older, savvy Chicago detectives and question their investigations, even if they have cause to doubt it. All the more so because these prosecutors need the officers on their side to effectively prosecute cases in court. A young felony review prosecutor questioning or maligning police’s tactics only undermines the office’s broader effort.

According to aDecember 2014 Washington Post poll, Democrats and Republicans alike overwhelmingly agree that outside prosecutors should investigate police shootings.

Other jurisdictions likeNew York,Wisconsin, andConnecticuthave recognized the need to wrest the review of police involved shootings from local prosecutors, even though none of these states have the additional conflict created by felony review. The same appears to be true for the13 other states that introduced legislationto require special prosecutors to investigate officer-involved shootings.

Yet, in Chicago, onlyone of the threeDemocratic candidates for Cook County prosecutor has voiced support for the appointment of special prosecutors in police shooting cases. The candidates that oppose this reform have intimate knowledge of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and the dynamics created by felony review. They should reconsider their position.

Meanwhile, the various investigations into the criminal justice system in Chicago, including those by the United States Department of Justice and the Mayor’s appointed panel, should consider Chicago’s unique felony review process in making their recommendations. They might consider whether felony review should be abolished in its current form. But to the extent it remains in place, they should insist that all police involved shootings be investigated by special prosecutors.

Anand Swaminathan is an attorney at the Chicago civil rights firm Loevy & Loevy. Joshua Tepfer is an attorney and lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School’s Exoneration Project.



Recent Headlines

CTA Moves Forward with Major Red Line Projects:
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Borrow $10B to help stabilize city pensions along with legal pot, casino and benefit cuts: Rahm
Thursday, December 13, 2018
The Daily Line

Cook County Public Guardian sues DCFS: “Abject moral and human rights failure”
Thursday, December 13, 2018
Capitol Fax

How local suburbs voted in Cook County minimum wage/paid sick leave advisory referenda
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
The Bugel

Cook County restores tax on parking apps before January cut took effect
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County repeals lower parking-app tax rate
Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

PRECKWINKLE’s tax tweak — Details on BURKE raids — State REPUBLICANS look for hope — SUMMERS’ tirade
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Illinois Politico

County Board to take on taxes,toilets at Wednesday meeting
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Woman, 19, arrested after escaping police custody at Cook County courthouse
Sunday, December 09, 2018
WLS ABC Chicago 7

Here's an exciting prospect: A boring assessor's office
Saturday, December 08, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Sheriff starts unique inmate program to combat Chicago's gun epidemic
Thursday, December 06, 2018
RTV 6 Indianapolis

Staff feud at tax appeals board turns nasty
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Cook County Tax Bills Posted Online Three Months Early
Wednesday, December 05, 2018
CBS Chicago

County Board makes it easier to choose Preckwinkle successor
Tuesday, December 04, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

New Cook County assessor vows end to favoritism as he takes office
Monday, December 03, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

New Cook County Board members sworn in Monday
Monday, December 03, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County referendums: 'Yes' to everything
Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Chicago City Wire

Glenview to discuss Cook County minimum wage, paid sick leave ordinances in December
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Wilmette reverses course, fully adopts both county minimum wage and sick time rules
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Chicago Tribune

What Pritzker's minimum wage increase plan could mean for the suburbs
Monday, November 26, 2018
Daily Herald

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP