"Reformers have for years recommended that all forensic labs be independent from law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies' and this is a key reform promoted by The Justice Project (2008). But fixing these problems is only half the answer' because half of the wrongful convictions attributed to misleading forensic evidence involved deliberate forensic fraud' evidence tampering' and/or perjury.
From "The Elephant in the Crime Lab," by co-authored by Sheila Berry and Larry Ytuarte; Forensic Examiner; Spring, 2009;
STORY: "Prosecutor admitted in FBI report that Englewood Four teens coerced into false confessions," by reporters Steve Mills and Todd Lighty, published by The Chicago Tribune on November 17, 2016.
GIST: "For years, four Chicago men have maintained that misconduct by police and prosecutors led to their wrongful convictions for a 1994 rape and murder. They did so at trial and even after their release from prison years later. Now, their lawyers say in court papers, they have new evidence of wrongdoing: an FBI report that quotes a former Cook County prosecutor admitting that the four were fed information by Chicago police and coerced into making false confessions that DNA evidence ultimately undermined. The case involves the Englewood Four — teens at the time of the crime who each spent close to 16 years in prison for the rape and murder of Nina Glover. The men were cleared after tests in 2011 matched DNA from Glover's body to Johnny Douglas, a convicted murderer and serial sex offender who was shot to death in 2008. Prosecutors, though, discounted Douglas' DNA match, saying that Glover's history of trading sex for drugs made it possible she had consensual sex with him. But a judge threw out the convictions of the four and later granted them certificates of innocence, both over the objections of prosecutors. The Englewood Four — Michael Saunders, Vincent Thames, Harold Richardson and Terrill Swift — later filed lawsuits alleging they were coerced into making false confessions that led to their convictions. Among those sued was Kenneth Boudreau, a longtime detective whose history of obtaining dubious confessions was detailed in the 2001 Tribune series Cops and Confessions. The suits also named James Cassidy, a key detective in obtaining false confessions from 7- and 8-year-old boys for killing 11-year-old Ryan Harris in 1998. The boys, as it turned out, could not have produced the semen found on Harris' body; a convicted sex offender later pleaded guilty. The detectives, both now retired, have denied wrongdoing in their investigation of Glover's strangulation death, as did Terence Johnson, a prosecutor who helped conduct the interrogations and obtain the confessions, Still, the case was troubling enough that federal authorities began a civil rights investigation in 2011 into the allegations of misconduct by police and prosecutors. But no charges ever resulted, and the investigation has since been closed. As part of that investigation, FBI agent Jeffrey Moore, who works out of the Chicago office, interviewed Johnson in March 2012. It is Moore's six-page report, called a 302 in FBI parlance, that lawyers for the Englewood Four have described in court papers as a bombshell. U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheila Finnegan has said "damaging statements" allegedly made by Johnson could be crucial to the lawsuits and has given the lawyers representing the Englewood Four permission to question Moore under oath as well as Johnson for a second time. The Englewood Four lawyers have said the FBI report contradicts testimony from Johnson in his first sworn deposition in the lawsuit. The 302 report has not been made public; indeed, this part of the lawsuit is playing out with some court papers heavily blacked out and lawyers restricted in what they can discuss. But according to a few details from the FBI report included in court filings by the Englewood Four lawyers, Johnson told Moore that the officers had "coached and fed" details to the teens and said the investigation was "going to come back" — somehow unravel — because it did not make sense. The Englewood Four lawyers, in their characterization of the FBI report, said Johnson told the agent that the detectives "coerced (them) to confess and sign written confessions." Johnson also suggested, the lawyers wrote, that the detectives "conspired to lie in court to cover up" the alleged misconduct and that he and another prosecutor, Fabio Valentini, now one of outgoing State's Attorney Anita Alvarez's top deputies, chose not to tell supervisors. Valentini, chief of the office's criminal prosecutions bureau, has denied any misconduct. Johnson, in court papers, described Moore's report as "mental impressions" and inadmissible "double and triple hearsay." Johnson claims the report is an inaccurate account of what he told the agent. The judge, however, spoke of the potential importance of allowing the lawyers to question Moore about his interview with Johnson. "Agent Moore thus has the potential to be an important witness for Plaintiffs; he effectively deposed Defendant Johnson on the very issues in dispute in this lawsuit, and Johnson ... reportedly made some damaging statements that were inconsistent with his later deposition testimony," Finnegan wrote. Johnson's once-promising legal career ended after his guilty plea in 2000 to two counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse in Kane County in exchange for a sentence of 30 months of probation. He admitted having sexual contact with two girls — one a teenager, the other younger than 13. After 10 years in the Cook County state's attorney's office, he was fired earlier in 2000 and agreed the following year to surrender his law license as he faced possible disbarment. Now 51, he is listed on the state sex offender registry. "
The entire story can be found at:
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: I am monitoring this case/issue. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments. The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at: http://www.thestar.com/topic/c