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Editorial: Allegations of torture deserve closer look by Kim Foxx

Monday, February 06, 2017
Chicago Sun-Times
by Editorial Board

Editorial: Allegations of torture deserve closer look by Kim Foxx

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx speaks at her office, 69 W Washington St, on Dec. 5, 2016. | Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times

Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx speaks at her office, 69 W Washington St, on Dec. 5, 2016. | Santiago Covarrubias/Sun-Times

 

For years, it’s been clear the Jaime Hauad case needs a thorough reinvestigation. It’s time to do it.

Hauad was convicted 18 years ago of killing two Maniac Latin Disciples outside an Avondale neighborhood bar. He was sentenced to life without parole.

But in 2014, the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission came to a disturbing conclusion: The evidence was strong that police tortured Hauad while he was in custody, and there was a possibility he could be entirely innocent. Although legal technicalities kept the Torture Commission from pursuing the case, the commission asked the Cook County state’s attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit to do so. The unit did take a cursory look but decided not to intervene.

Now, though, an Illinois Appellate Court panel has seconded the 0commission’s motion. In a 23-page opinion on Dec. 29, the court said that, while legal technicalities also prevent it from doing anything, “We encourage the State’s Attorney and the Conviction Integrity Unit to heed the recommendation of the Torture commission to further investigate the case and Hauad’s claim that he was tortured while in police custody.”

The Appellate Court’s plea, on top of one from the Torture Commission, makes a pretty strong case for turning over a few more rocks to see what really happened.

But Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office

says the Conviction Integrity Unit isn’t planning to bother.

In a statement, the office’s statement said, “We are pleased that the Appellate Court carefully reviewed the record and rejected the defendant’s unsupported claims. Similarly, the State’s Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit also investigated the defendant’s claims of actual innocence and concluded that there was no evidence to substantiate the defendant’s claims.”

But that appears to be a misreading of the Appellate Court opinion. If the three-judge panel thought there was no merit to the Hauad’s claims, it wouldn’t have urged the Conviction Integrity Unit to take another look.

Hauad, now 34, said police threatened to cut off his toes if he didn’t confess. He also said he was slapped and beaten while in custody. In 2001, a witness told the FBI he saw a different man commit the double murder for which Hauad was convicted. And a surviving victim later filed an affidavit saying he falsely placed Hauad near the shooting and in fact had not seen him at all that day.

As a candidate for state’s attorney, Foxx wrote on a Sun-Times questionnaire, “The Conviction Integrity Unit has not done enough. The office is woefully underprioritized, a problem I hope to fix.”

If she really wants to fix it, the Hauad case looks like a good place to start.

Send letters to letters@suntimes.com



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