Last week, we told you about the problem of “testilying” in Cook County. This is an all-too common practice in Cook County in which police officers take the stand at a criminal case and give knowingly false testimony. And sadly, judges and prosecutors rarely call police out on their lies, even if they’re glaringly obvious. However, the recent attention given to this issue has finally motivated the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office to Act, and defense attorneys in some cases are now receiving disclosure notices letting them know that a police officer may have given false testimony in a case they handled.
Six Chicago Police Officers Under Investigation for False Testimony
A follow-up article by the Chicago Tribune reported that the Chicago Police Department has begun an investigation into whether as many as six police officers lied on the stand in the course of criminal proceedings. The department has already removed one officer from patrols because of his suspected false testimony.
In the case of that officer, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office has filed a disclosure notice to defense counsel in a case reported on in the Tribune’s previous article. In that case, the officer was suspected of lying about how whether he had reasonable suspicion to initiate a traffic stop that resulted in a $50,000 drug bust. The state’s attorney’s office may issue disclosure notices in other cases involving this officer, as well as additional officers who may have lied on the stand.
The disclosure notices do not automatically vacate a conviction, but they let a defense attorney know that a witness may have provided false testimony, or at the very least that new evidence has rendered that testimony highly questionable. The disclosure notice can be the basis for appealing a conviction, and some attorneys are already using this information as grounds to testimony the credibility of this officer in other cases.
In addition, prosecutors are reviewing the transcripts of prior cases involving these officers to determine whether perjury charges may be appropriate. Perjury is a criminal action that can carry substantial prison time in the event of a conviction. And if prosecutors do decide to pursue criminal charges against these officers, those prosecutions could reveal evidence that could also make it easier for the wrongfully convicted to pursue appeals or even civil rights lawsuits against the Chicago Police Department. This could also motivate the department to pursue stronger internal discipline actions against officers who lie in court.
Chicago Criminal Defense Law
A fair jury trial is the cornerstone of the American criminal justice system. Defendants have a right to not have their conduct called into question by untruthful testimony, but sadly recent stories in Chicago media show that hasn’t always been the case in Cook County. If you believe a police officer falsely testified against you and it resulted in a wrongful conviction, you may be able to get your conviction vacated on appeal. For more information, contact Barney & Hourihane today for a consultation.