Crooked City

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Filtering by Tag: Steve Mills

Zorn Censors, Ridicules...

Chicago Tribune Columnist Eric Zorn, a main supporter of Northwestern University in their wrongful conviction claims, particularly the Anthony Porter case, now censors his blog. In response to any criticism from a Chicago Police Officer, he can only ridicule, then censor their comments. This is Zorn's blog about the Central Park Five Case and Zorn's coverage of wrongful convictions.

Outraged Blogger, named Jake, who cannot fathom anyone claiming the original offenders in the Central Park Five Case were guilty:

Martin, so your theory is that a psychopathic serial rapist/murderer who always worked alone, including once before in Central Park, decided that night to team up with five total strangers he met in the park to rape the jogger, that somehow that serial solo rapist is the only person among this improvised pack of six to leave any physical evidence behind whatsoever (in the form of DNA), and that each of the other five, for some unknown reason, declined to mention the existence of that sixth rapist in any of their statements to police. The bases of this damned stupid theory are your belief that her injuries are consistent with multiple attackers, your assertion that, despite the presence of knife injuries, Reyes (the "sixth" rapist) didn't mention using a sharp instrument in his statement, even though he used sharp instruments (a knife, an ice-pick) in other attacks, and your faith-like belief in the confessions of scared kids who didn't realize they could never take it back that implicated everyone *but* the one person whom we know was actually was there. I don't have the facts to dispute the snippets of information you post on your blog -- I frankly don't trust them, because you obviously never met a confession that wasn't true, or a police theory that wasn't correct, and you generally seem motivated by a single-minded whackadoo agenda -- but it doesn't matter, because your snippets aren't nearly enough to demonstrate even a possibility, much less a probability, much less proof beyond a reasonable doubt, that any of the five convicted of that crime actually did it.

If you want to get on your high horse on behalf of victims, I'd do it for the five women he attacked after April 1989 one of whom, a pregnant mother, was murdered while her children were in the next room, another of whom was almost blinded (using sharp instruments) by Reyes, after he didn't get caught for the Central Park rape, even though he was already in police crosshairs and could have been caught.

Police are, for the most part I'm sure, hard-working and well-meaning, but everyone makes mistakes. Like doctors, police have an awesome responsibility not to f up -- their mistakes can cost a lot. A good person tries to learn from past mistakes so they don't happen again. Only a prick blusters on that they never happened in the first place.

My Response:

Over the past few months a top prosecutor signed an affidavit saying he thought the release of Anthony Porter was wrong. He had doubts about Alstory Simon being the killer and had grave doubts about his confession. 

Front Page story on the Sun Times.

The Tribune and Zorn?


Lawyers for Simon submit a letter saying Simon's lawyer engaged in provable misconduct and cite a pattern of coercive conduct in other cases. 

Sun Time coverage, Zorn and Tribune silent.

A man convicted of raping and killing a three-year-old girl is exonerated by Northwestern's Law School in 2012. Last month, he is accused of slitting the throat of a man over a dice game. 

Coverage all over the world. 

Zorn and Tribune silent. 

A new documentary played last month by filmmakers in the Porter case who did something Zorn would never dream of doing: They talked to everyone involved, all the witnesses, the investigating cops, the journalists.

They invited Zorn. Maybe he would be interested in seeing how badly he screwed up the biggest wrongful conviction case in the state's history. There were also witnesses in the documentary describing coercive tactics by Northwestern in other cases. This is called a pattern of behavior, or a modus operandi, something Zorn and the Tribune refuse to acknowledge. 

Most of all, Zorn could have confronted some of the detectives whose lives he has ruined over the years and they could have sat down with him and showed him how badly he got it. 

But I guess he had plans that night. 

Zorn's technique, along with his other wrongful conviction activists, is to take a case out of the courtroom where a jury has heard all the evidence, then try it in the press room, where journalists like Zorn can pick some evidence and testimony and ignore others. They can also out and out lie. 

It is also a tactic of these advocates to say people made claims they never made. You are an example, Jake.

My snippets. You might want to take your dazzled eyes off the Burn documentary and review the case clearly. There is a large collection of lawyers, journalists, detectives and politicians who know these kids were guilty, having made admissions that only someone who had been at the crime scene could have made.

The youths told police that a man named Tony raped the woman. Tony was Reyes’ nickname. 

The allegation in the CPF is not that the cops made a mistake. It's that they engaged in a frame up, just like the allegations in the Porter case. 

Like so many fraudulent wrongful conviction claims, the story of these allegations are compelling. The poor innocent youth who were running around the park terrorizing people never made claims of police coercion until after they obtained civil rights lawyers and learned that this element was essential to recover a settlement. What a coincidence. 

The original trial judge reviewed for several months the possibility of police coercion in the original trial to determine if the confessions were legitimate, painstakingly reviewing the entire investigation and found nothing even remotely close to coercion. One of the little innocents made statements about the attack before the police even knew about it. Fairstein, a nationally renowned expert on sex crimes, overheard the youths making incriminating statements. 

Then, of course, the personal attacks begin. The prosecutor, an accomplished writer, can’t even hold a book signing without the mob attacking her. In true grace and dignity, she invites the agitators to discuss the case and no one takes her up on it. I could see Zorn in this crowd, then going home and writing a toast to them.

If only this case had gone to civil trial like the Porter case, which humiliated Zorn and compelled him to hang the lawyer who had just shown the public what a travesty it truly was, then perhaps the public could see. But the CPF activists, including that renowned truth seeker Al Sharpton, knew they only had to wait until a Democrat got elected and shazam, they got the settlement they wanted. 

Another connection between the CPF and other wrongful conviction scams is the willingness, the eagerness of activists to believe wholeheartedly the statements of a sociopathic killer, not under oath and not subject to cross examination, over the large body of evidence reviewed at trial by a jury and by appeals court judges. They cite in the CPF case the fact that Reyes has a modus operendi. He always acted alone. Review his criminal history and you will see very little clear modus operendi. He is a crazed predator who seized on all kinds of opportunities to attack and kill. He raped his own mother, committed robberies, burglaries. When the desire for mayhem arose, Reyes acted. It doesn’t matter whether he was alone or not. This is a pathetic attempt by people who actually know little to nothing about the criminal mind to present themselves as if they do. 

It’s hardly different than the claim by Northwestern that Porter was innocent because witnesses said he fired with his left hand and he was right handed, as if robberies that end up becoming double homicides follow some script. There are million reasons why Porter would move the gun to his left, including grabbing the loot from his victims. 

The activists refuse to look at the evidence that the prosecutor’s decision to vacate the convictions was controversial in his own office. Senior members in the department were furious at this decision, just as they were in the Porter case. 

Physical evidence? What physical evidence exists against Alstory Simon? Yet there he sits in prison compliments of Northwestern University. The confessions of these youths, who were already in the park wilding at the same time, are overwhelmingly indicative of guilt. Each legal proceeding that reviewed arrived at the same conclusion, as if some young woman with a political agenda can see what all these detectives, proseuctors, juries, judges and appeals judges couldn’t, not unlike the image of kids in their 20’s suddenly finding evidence in the Porter case. The offenders made statements implicating each other, trying to minimize their own conduct. Many rapes the attackers are unable to ejaculate. There is nothing unusual about it. In fact, this is exactly what police and prosecutors argued from the first moment of the case: there were other offenders than the one who left DNA. 

How telling that the City attorneys never even bothered to interview the medical staff, just as the state’s attorney released Porter based on a “confession” video they hadn’t even looked at. 

Like so many wrongful condition claims, the CPF falls apart under any scrutiny. Sarah Burns addressed this fact by simply leaving out the interviews from people who contradicted her mythology, including attorney Michael Armstrong. If you’re really interested in justice in this case, you might want to talk to him for several hours about his investigations and his dealings with Burns and her father. 

Fairstein and the detectives unfortunately fall into the same fate as the detectives in the Madison Hobley case in Chicago. They desperately wanted to get to civil trial, where they knew their investigation would hold up and Hobley would be shown to be the killer, just as the civil trial did in the Porter case. But alas, they were all sold out by the Democratic Machine. 

"It was a huge disappointment," Fairstein said before the settlement, "but litigation is ongoing and we think it will make clear their participation in the attacks."

Many of these issues were covered in a recent reading on my book, Crooked City, and my article Crossing Lines in New City, at the Chicago Public Library. The Tribune, and Eric Zorn’s behavior were a central talking point. 

As for your name calling, right back at ya, brother.  Right back at ya.

Zorn deleted the comments with this:

ZORN REPLY -- My apologies. Posts by this monomaniac are supposed to go directly to the spam filter where I can make sure he's staying on topic (which he almost never does).

How badly the lead detective in the Porter wants to sit down with Zorn and go over the Porter case. He's been waiting 30 years to talk to a Tribune writer. One wonders if Zorn will take him up on it.