Illinois currently leads the nation in wrongful convictions. Citizens in McLean County are looking to do something about that. A rally is scheduled at the McLean County Law and Justice Center on March 14, 2014 at 12 PM. Supporters of the wrongfully convicted are asking people to join them in their quest to obtain DNA testing and prove their innocence. Despite Illinois’s atrocious track record, McLean County State’s Attorney’s Office and Jason Chambers continue to deny full DNA testing on several cases in which evidence indicates innocence.
Supporters are also asking citizens to join together to insist that Freedom of Information Act requests are responded to within the letter of the law and to support Mr. Chambers in following through with his campaign pledge: “Justice Over Politics!”
The Does Innocence Matter event will shine a spotlight on questionable cases prosecuted by former McLean County Prosecutor Charles Reynard. Reynard is now a McLean County Judge. Jamie Snow, Barton McNeil, Donald Whalen, Michael Carlos and Andrew DuBois were all prosecuted by Reynard, and all have questionable circumstances. Reynard is directly connected to two known cases that have been overturned due to misconduct. Alan Beaman and Eric Drew are two cases that were overturned in part due to violations of evidence undisclosed prior to trial by Reynard. Such proven impropriety demands further investigation and testing in all other cases where same is requested, particularly where no physical evidence linking them to the crime exists.
Jason Chambers stated in email correspondence to event organizers, “If there is a specific request and there is material available to test, I would be willing to evaluate that.” The DNA motions are before the court. Those gathering this Friday in McLean County are hopeful that Mr. Chambers will honor his statement.
James Kluppelberg – Illinois Exonoree
Mr. Kluppelberg was wrongfully convicted of an arson that killed six people and injured another on Chicago’s south side in 1984. The conviction was based on testimony from a jailhouse informant who later recanted, as well as faulty arson science. Mr. Kluppelberg was also a victim of the Jon Burge administration; Burge would later become a convicted felon on obstruction and perjury charges, after having been tied to scores of torture cases over a nearly 20-year period, costing the City of Chicago millions of dollars. On May 30, 2012, after 24 years, a Cook County Judge vacated his conviction and the charges were dropped.
Alan Mills, Legal Director, Uptown People’s Law Center
Alan Mills is the Legal Director of the Uptown People’s Law Center, a not-for-profit community legal clinic located on the northside of Chicago. Mr. Mills began representing prisoners at Cook County jail during law school; he has tried dozens of individual cases on behalf of prisoners in state and federal court during the last 30 years. Mr. Mills is currently one of the lead class counsel in several other statewide class action cases on behalf of Illinois prisoners. Mr. Mills graduated from Northwestern University School of Law in 1981. Since 2005, he has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Northwestern University Schoolof Law and since 2012 at
DePaul University’s College of Law.
Attendees will include representatives from the following organizations: The Exoneration Project, Investigating Innocence, Injustice Anywhere and Justice for Illinois Wrongfully Convicted, as well as family members (often the other forgotten victims of these tragedies). Statements written by those currently imprisoned who are seeking DNA testing will also be read.
The event is open to the public. Supporters are being asked to wear black, and attendees are welcome to make their own signs.
Facebook Event Site: http://www.DoesInnocenceMatter.com