Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  
 

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:  
   
 
 

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

   
 

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

   
  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 naïve 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

Cook County board to vote on new budget today
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
WGN Channel 9

Preckwinkle agrees to fewer Cook County job cuts; hundreds of layoffs still in works
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Chicago Tribune

Teamsters Local 700 Files for Temporary Restraining Order Against Cook County Merit Board
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Special to suffredin.org

How Cook County finally got a new budget
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Crain's Chicago Business

ONTIVEROS: I think I miss that soda pop tax
Monday, November 20, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times

Budget Cuts Expected For Cook County Public Guardian’s Office
Monday, November 20, 2017
CBS Chicago

Ex-Cook County Board President Todd Stroger says he's running again
Monday, November 20, 2017
Chicago Tribune

More than 300 Cook County employees will lose jobs to balance budget
Monday, November 20, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Jail Population Down 15 Percent After Bond Reforms
Monday, November 20, 2017
WTTW Chicago Tonight

Stroger vs. Preckwinkle: Hide your wallets.
Monday, November 20, 2017
Chicago Tribune

After momentous week, prosecutor Kim Foxx says 'we have to right wrongs'
Monday, November 20, 2017
Chicago Tribune

Police union president slams Foxx, prosecutors after exonerations
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times

MIHALOPOULOS: Will pop-tax anger unseat Preckwinkle, or fizzle out?
Saturday, November 18, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times

After Warning of 'Painful Cuts,' Preckwinkle to Unveil 2018 Budget Amendment
Friday, November 17, 2017
NBC Chicago

Watchdog: Quit stalling on Cook County justice system data
Friday, November 17, 2017
Crain's Chicago Business

The Week in Review: Record Wave of Exonerations Tied to Rogue Cop
Friday, November 17, 2017
WTTW Chicago Tonight

Preckwinkle, some commissioners say enough votes for amended budget
Friday, November 17, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times

Preckwinkle: Nothing Pleasant About Hundreds Of Layoffs
Friday, November 17, 2017
CBS Chicago

Cook County commissioners get behind Preckwinkle's budget cuts
Friday, November 17, 2017
Chicago Tribune

Chuy Garcia Sole Cook County Commissioner Iffy on Budget
Friday, November 17, 2017
WTTW Chicago Tonight

all news items

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