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Sydney Carton
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Blago's Senator Sought Death Sentence for Innocent Man
« on: January 05, 2009, 02:02:11 PM »

  In 90s, Burris Sought Death Penalty for Innocent Man
by Ben Protess , ProPublica - December 31, 2008 4:02 pm EST




Against the advice of his deputy attorney general, then Illinois Attorney General Roland Burris sought the death penalty for Rolando Cruz (pictured). (Reuters file photo)Former Illinois attorney general Roland Burris, embattled Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s pick to replace Barack Obama in the Senate, is no stranger to controversy.

Public fury over the governor’s alleged misconduct has masked the once lively debate over Burris' decision to continue to prosecute – despite the objections of one of his top prosecutors – the wrong man for a high-profile murder case.

While state attorney general in 1992, Burris aggressively sought the death penalty for Rolando Cruz, who twice was convicted of raping and murdering a 10-year-old girl in the Chicago suburb of Naperville. The crime took place in 1983.

But by 1992, another man had confessed to the crime, and Burris’ own deputy attorney general was pleading with Burris to drop the case, then on appeal before the Illinois Supreme Court.

Burris refused. He was running for governor.

"Anybody who understood this case wouldn’t have voted for Burris," Rob Warden, executive director of the Center on Wrongful Convictions, told ProPublica. Indeed, Burris lost that race, and two other attempts to become governor.

Burris’ role in the Cruz case was "indefensible and in defiance of common sense and common decency," Warden said. "There was obvious evidence that [Cruz] was innocent."

Deputy attorney general Mary Brigid Kenney agreed, and eventually resigned rather than continue to prosecute Cruz.

Once Burris assigned Kenney to the case in 1991, she became convinced that Cruz was innocent, a victim of what she believed was prosecutorial misconduct. She sent Burris a memo reporting that the jury convicted Cruz without knowing that Brian Dugan, a repeat sex offender and murderer, had confessed to the crime. Burris never met with Kenney to discuss a new trial for Cruz, Kenney told ProPublica.

"This is something the attorney general should have been concerned about," Kenney, now an assistant public guardian in Cook County, said in an interview. "I knew the prosecutor’s job was not merely to secure conviction but to ensure justice was done."

Kenney was not alone in her beliefs. Prior to Cruz’ 1985 trial, the lead detective in the case resigned in protest over prosecutors' handling of the case, according to news reports at the time. 

And rather than argue Burris’ case before the state supreme court, Kenney also stepped down.

"What I took away was that [Burris] wasn’t going to do anything to seem soft on crime," Kenney said. "He didn’t have the guts."

In her resignation letter, Kenney claimed Burris had "seen fit to ignore the evidence in this case."

"I cannot sit idly by as this office continues to pursue the unjust prosecution of Rolando Cruz," she wrote. "I realized that I was being asked to help execute an innocent man."

Burris' response at the time: "It is not for me to place my judgment over a jury, regardless of what I think."  (We have also left a message for Burris at his office and will post an update if we hear back.)

State prosecutors carried on with the prosecution, even after DNA evidence in 1995 excluded Cruz as the victim's rapist and linked somebody else—sex offender Brian Dugan–to the crime.

Eventually, prosecutors’ case hit a wall. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed Cruz's conviction and granted him a third trial. (The court declared that the trial judge in the case had improperly excluded Dugan’s confession, and thus compromised Cruz's defense.) In the new trial, Cruz was acquitted. The judge in that case concluded, "I'd hope and pray the person or persons - whoever is culpable - is brought to justice."

In late 1995, Cruz finally walked free after serving 11 years on death row for a crime he did not commit.

A grand jury later indicted four sheriff's deputies and three former county prosecutors for their roles in the Cruz case. They were eventually acquitted. Burris was never accused of any wrongdoing or misconduct. Dugan is scheduled to stand trial for the crime next year, 26 years after it was committed.

SC
   No less than three other prosecutors involved in this one and they all walked!I am sure that Blago is looking for a similarly oriented jury and could get one in Illinois.

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Sydney Carton
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Re: Blago's Senator Sought Death Sentence for Innocent Man
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2009, 05:14:24 PM »

   Here is another Blago case  which was included in the multi-reference thread "Cops Can Be  Victims Too".
   It and several instances are wothy oof individual attention and I will be posting them(with further feedback) in the appropriate sections.

 "WILDER "KEN" BERRY

In December, 1991, Ken Berry was a newly-hired officer with the University of Chicago Police Department.  But his world came crashing down when a woman with whom he had consensual sex accused him of rape.  Thanks to a defense attorney later described by U.S. District Judge Robert Gettelman as "clueless" -- he never prepared for trial and failed to call witnesses who could exonerate Berry -- Ken was convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison.  In 1999, his habeas was granted and he was retried.  It took the jury less than 2 hours to acquit Ken.  He has distinguished himself as a litigation paralegal and in his pro bono (free of charge) work with the poor and elderly, but what he really wants is a pardon.

UPDATE:  Police and court records relating to the arrest and conviction of Wilder "Ken" Berry for a crime he has since been exonerated of have been ordered expunged by Cook County Chief Criminal Judge Paul Biebel.  Gov. Rod Blagojevich refused Berry's request for clemency, prompting Berry to seek a court order.  "I may never be financially compensated for losing those eight years, but my name restoration means much more," Berry said.

SC
   Our Lord's saying that"Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy" definitely doesn't apply to Blago who is shortly to be hauled up for impeahment proceedings.
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Sydney Carton
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Re: Blago's Senator Sought Death Sentence for Innocent Man
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2009, 01:44:37 PM »

 SC:
    Seems that Burris forgot throughout this preceeding unpleasantness that Blago had tapped him for a ten thousand dollar bribe as well.But he now clearly remembers not paying it.
   I wonder if he himself would have believed that same story if he had heard it from the innocent man whom he was trying so hard to execute.
   
     Report: Blagojevich Wanted $10,000 Donation From Burris
The Chicago Sun-Times reports on its Web site Saturday that Sen. Roland Burris didn't make the donation.

AP

Saturday, February 14, 2009

 U.S. Senator Roland Burris acknowledges he was asked for up to $10,000 in campaign donations by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's brother before he was appointed to the senate seat by Blagojevich.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports on its Web site Saturday that Burris didn't make the donation. Burris gave the newspaper a copy of a sworn statement he has sent to the head of the Illinois House impeachment committee.

Burris says he sent the affidavit to House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie when he realized his testimony before the committee wasn't complete.

Currie tells The Associated Press on Saturday she has Burris' statement, but hasn't had time to compare it to his testimony.

Burris says he had three conversations with Robert Blagojevich, who led the Friends of Blagojevich campaign fund.

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Sydney Carton
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Re: Blago's Senator Sought Death Sentence for Innocent Man
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2009, 02:52:43 PM »

   Related Items


Sen. Burris adamantly denies misleading Ill. House
 
By RUPA SHENOY
Associated Press Writer

Posted: Today at 11:53 a.m.

CHICAGO — One month after Roland Burris was sworn in to the U.S. Senate to represent Illinois and fill Barack Obama's vacant seat, he's hearing calls for his resignation.

"I can't believe anything that comes out of Mr. Burris at this point," state Rep. Jim Durkin said. "I think it would be in the best interest of the state if he resigned because I don't think the state can stand this anymore."

Durkin and House Republican Leader Tom Cross want an investigation of Burris for possible perjury.

Their statements come after Burris over the weekend released a Feb. 5 affidavit that he filed with the Illinois House committee investigating the impeachment of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The affidavit contradicts statements he made last month in front of the committee, before being sworn in Jan. 15.

The discrepancy could mean he perjured himself.

On Sunday, an adamant Burris told reporters at a combative press conference in Chicago that he hadn't done anything wrong and never misled anyone.

"I've always conducted myself with honor and integrity," said Burris, 71. "At no time did I ever make any inconsistent statement."

Burris' office released the affidavit after its existence was first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times. The U.S. senator said Sunday he spoke to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and senior Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin and "they understand what's going on."

Reid spokesman Jim Manley confirmed Burris told Reid about the affidavit Friday.

"Clearly it would have been better if Senator Burris had provided this information when he first testified," Manley said. "Senator Reid is reviewing the affidavit and will await any action by Illinois legislative leaders after they review the matter."

Durbin spokeswoman Christina Angarola said Burris told Durbin about the affidavit on Friday, but didn't provide a copy.

Gov. Pat Quinn, who advanced to the governor's mansion after Blagojevich was ousted over corruption allegations last month, also called on Burris to explain the contradiction.

"My opinion is that he owes the people of Illinois a complete explanation," Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said, according to Quinn spokesman Bob Reed.

According to the affidavit, Blagojevich's brother, Robert Blagojevich, called Burris three times - once in October and twice after the November election - to seek his fundraising assistance.

The disclosure reflects a major omission from Burris' testimony in January when an Illinois House impeachment committee specifically asked if he had ever spoken to Robert Blagojevich or other aides to the now-deposed governor about the seat vacated by President Barack Obama.

Burris explained Sunday that he never got a chance to answer a direct question about Blagojevich's brother, and submitted the Feb. 4 affidavit to clarify.

However, transcripts of Burris' impeachment committee testimony show he had opportunities to provide a full response to Illinois legislators. In one instance, when asked directly about speaking to Robert Blagojevich and other associates of the former governor, Burris consulted with his attorney before responding.

Robert Blagojevich's attorney has said that his client believes one of the conversations was recorded by the FBI.

Burris said Sunday that he told Robert Blagojevich he would not raise money because it would look like he was trying to win favor from the governor for his appointment.

"I did not donate one single dollar nor did I raise any money or promise favors of any kind to the governor," he said.

It's not clear what action state legislators could now take against Burris, said Northwestern University law professor and former Illinois Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch.

"I'm not aware that anything quite like this has happened in any state before," she said.
   [snip]
     Thanks,Clowns.
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Sydney Carton
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Re: Blago's Senator Sought Death Sentence for Innocent Man
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2009, 05:54:06 PM »

   http://www.wral.com/news/national_world/national/story/4542940/
Illinois GOP leader calls on Sen. Burris to resign
Posted: Today at 3:36 p.m.
Updated: 5 minutes ago

CHICAGO — Just as Illinois was moving past the agony and embarrassment of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's ousting, the fellow Democrat whom Blagojevich appointed to the U.S. Senate was hearing calls for his own resignation Sunday amid allegations he lied to legislators.

Freshman Sen. Roland Burris released an affidavit on Saturday that contradicts his statements last month to a House committee investigating Blagojevich's impeachment.

"I can't believe anything that comes out of Mr. Burris at this point," Rep. Jim Durkin, the impeachment committee's ranking Republican, said at a news conference Sunday. "I think it would be in the best interest of the state if he resigned because I don't think the state can stand this anymore."

Gov. Pat Quinn, who advanced to the governor's mansion after Blagojevich was ousted over corruption allegations last month, also called on Burris to explain the contradiction.

"My opinion is that he owes the people of Illinois a complete explanation," Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn said, according to Quinn spokesman Bob Reed.

Durkin, the impeachment committee's ranking Republican, and House Republican Leader Tom Cross also wants an investigation of Burris for possible perjury.

It's not clear what action state legislators could now take against Burris, said Northwestern University law professor and former Illinois Comptroller Dawn Clark Netsch.

"I'm not aware that anything quite like this has happened in any state before," she said.

Based on federal law, the state Senate could argue that Burris was a temporary appointment, then pass a bill calling for a special election to name a permanent senator, Netsch said.
   SC:
    Burris continues to deny that he lies.Says that he referred to  "friends" in the first statement and eventually intended to mention that one of these was Blago's brother.
    Somehow I don't think that Burris  will ever manage to convince Rolando Cruz,the innocent man  whom he attempted to execute on rather more flimsy circumstancial evidence.
   
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