Suffredin- Changing County Government  

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 was created on January 15, 1831 and named after Daniel P. Cook, Member of Congress and the first Attorney from the State of Illinois.

Innocence certificate bid gains new life in case that doomed state death penalty

Friday, May 26, 2017
Chicago Tribune
by Steve Schmadeke

Innocence certificate bid gains new life in case that doomed state death penalty

1 of
Michael Tercha / Chicago Tribune 2014
Alstory Simon, talking to reporters about his mother dying while he was incarcerated, was released Oct. 30, 2014, from the Jacksonville Correctional Center in Jacksonville, Ill.

Steve Schmadeke, Chicago Tribune

5:47 pm, May 25, 2017

An appeals court has breathed new life into efforts by Alstory Simon to win a certificate of innocence three years after Cook County prosecutors agreed to free him, rewriting the story of a double-murder case that ultimately ended capital punishment in Illinois.

While the court stopped short of granting the certificate ó a disappointment for Simon, whose lawyer said he might appeal ó it did order a new hearing and gave Simon another chance to make his case in the protracted legal battle.

Simon's bombshell convictions for murder and manslaughter were thrown out in 2014 by the Cook County state's attorney at the time, Anita Alvarez, who told reporters that "alarming tactics that were not only coercive but absolutely unacceptable by law enforcement standards" had been used by a former Northwestern University professor and a private investigator to obtain Simon's videotaped confession.

That 1999 confession, aired on local TV, led to the release of Anthony Porter, who was then on death row for a double slaying on the South Side in 1982. His release helped spur the governor at the time, George Ryan, to halt executions in Illinois, a step toward the abolition of the death penalty here in 2011.

But the release of Simon, who claimed he pleaded guilty because he had been promised money from book or movie deals, raised the possibility that a guilty man had been freed.

Indeed, Cook County Judge Thomas Byrne in 2015 found that Simon was most likely innocent in the slaying of Marilyn Green and the voluntary manslaughter of Jerry Hillard, but ruled Simon was barred from receiving a certificate of innocence because he had helped bring about his own confession and had not alleged any wrongdoing by prosecutors.

Last week, the state appellate court panel did not take issue with Byrne's ruling, but said the judge improperly based on it on evidence not admitted into the record, depriving Simon of any chance to respond or address it. It ordered a new hearing on Simon's petition. Prosecutors didn't oppose the certificate or appeal.

Simon's attorney Terry Ekl said he was unhappy with the ruling and will most likely seek permission from the Illinois Supreme Court to appeal. He said the certificate should have been granted based on the uncontested evidence presented to the judge.

"It makes no sense whatsoever," he said. "(Our appeal) sat there for two years and then they came back with this evidentiary hearing so we can contest evidence that was never presented to the court."

Simon, who is 67 and now living in Ohio, alleges he was framed by former Northwestern professor David Protess and private investigator Paul Ciolino, who Simon says fabricated evidence to free Porter from death row. In a pending $40 million federal lawsuit, Simon alleges Protess and Ciolino, manufactured bogus evidence, coaxed false statements from witnesses, intimidated Simon into confessing and set him up with a lawyer, Jack Rimland, who coached him to plead guilty.

They have denied wrongdoing, as has Northwestern, which is also named in the lawsuit. Protess left Northwestern in 2011 amid controversy over tactics allegedly employed by his students, including giving witnesses money for drugs, lying about their identities and flirting with witnesses.

The federal judge hearing Simon's lawsuit threatened to issue an arrest warrant for Porter this month after he failed to show for scheduled deposition or a court hearing to explain why. U.S. Magistrate Judge David Weisman instead ordered Porter to sit for a June 6 deposition.

If he again fails to show, Porter could then be taken into custody. Porter was awarded about $150,000 by the state in 2000 for his wrongful imprisonment and also was given a certificate of innocence.

But his $24 million lawsuit against the city and two Chicago police detectives failed when a Cook County jury sided with the police and awarded him no damages.

If he wins an innocence certificate, Simon can have his conviction expunged from the record and become eligible for $200,000 from the state. It would also aid his pending federal lawsuit.

Twitter @SteveSchmadeke

Recent Headlines

Thursday, May 16, 2019
Special to

Celebrate Earth Day with the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Special to

Homeowners in Chicago have just a few weeks to get current on their 2017 property taxes - or risk losing their homes. WBEZís Odette Yousef reports.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
WBEZ Chiacgo Public Radio

Editorial: The Foxx-Smollett questions for Inspector General Blanchard
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County Health Cuts Ribbon on Outpatient Center in Arlington Heights
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
Daily Herald

Cook County pet owners warned of spring coyote dangers
Monday, April 15, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County inspector general to review prosecutors' handling of Jussie Smollett case
Saturday, April 13, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Foxx requests Cook County IG investigation into handling of Jussie Smollett case
Friday, April 12, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

A challenge to one of Chicago's biggest draws for companies
Friday, April 12, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

What Evanston's assessments tell us about the new assessor's new math
Friday, April 12, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

$3.85 million granted in lawsuit against ex-Cook County forest preserve worker charged in fatal on-the-job crash
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Chicago Tribune

A Day in the Life of a Cook County Burn Crew
Wednesday, April 10, 2019

EDITORIAL: Splitting up the regionís sanitation board is an idea that stinks
Monday, April 08, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Lawmakers Look To Keep 10-Year-Olds Out Of Jail
Thursday, April 04, 2019

Property Tax Workshops Help Homeowners Appeal Assessments
Wednesday, April 03, 2019
Evanston RoundTable

Large crowds of Evanston residents turn out to appeal property tax assessments
Tuesday, April 02, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Family of slain cabbie accuses Cook County state's attorney's office of dodging FOIA request
Monday, April 01, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Property Tax Appeal Seminar Set For New Trier Township Residents
Monday, April 01, 2019
Journal and Topics Online

Measles has turned up in Cook County. Here's what you need to know.
Friday, March 29, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Woman died of fentanyl overdose at Cook County Jail: autopsy
Thursday, March 28, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

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