The Crusader Newspaper Group

Foxx’s office seeks to deny Roosevelt Myles’ Certificate of Innocence after his exoneration

KIM FOXX HUGS Roosevelt Myles at a luncheon at Kennedy King College in Englewood last October.

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office plans to file a motion to stop Roosevelt Myles from obtaining his Certificate of Innocence after he was exonerated following decades of court delays and systemic abuses while fighting to clear his name in Cook County’s notorious criminal justice system.

The latest move in a long legal battle has torn open old wounds. Prosecutor Todd Dombrowski on Tuesday, March 26, told Cook County Judge Carol Howard that he will file a motion to intervene, a move that will fight Myles’ effort to obtain a Certificate of Innocence. If Myles loses this latest round, he will forever have a criminal record and will not be compensated for spending nearly 30 years behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit.

The bombshell move came months after Foxx was photo[1]graphed smiling and supporting Myles at an event last year, as he continued getting his life together after Judge Howard tossed out his conviction on December 5, 2022.

In his response on Tuesday before Judge Howard, Dombrowski seemed unsure and signaled that the State’s objection to Myles’ re[1]quest for a Certificate of Innocence was not his decision.

He said, “Judge, I just received information a couple of minutes ago actually that the State is going to be intervening in this matter. So, since I just learned about this, I don’t have anything yet. That was our main issue from the last court date; on whether the State was going to intervene.”

In her response, Judge Howard said, “Well, the State has had a long time to make that determination. So, I expect the State to file its written response shortly.”

When Dombrowski began asking for dates to file his response, Ashley Cohen, Myles’ attorney, objected, and asked that the next date be a hearing and not another deadline to file a response.

That’s when Cohen told Judge Howard, “With all due respect to the State’s Attorney, they go to these hearings, and they throw in the towel and they decide they want to proceed to intervene on the Certificate of Innocence. There’s absolutely no reason why they would dismiss the case in the first instance just to fight the Certificate of Innocence, and now my client has to wait again. We are prepared to go to an immediate hearing. I don’t know why there needs to be much time at all for the State to write a response that just says they’re intervening.”

Dombrowski asked for April 22 to be the next court date. Judge Howard responded, “I’m going to give you April 22, and I’m not going to give you a continuance after that.”

During a phone interview with the Crusader, Cohen said she learned about Foxx’s objection five minutes before Tuesday’s hearing. The Crusader spoke with Eugenia Orr, Foxx’s chief of external affairs, and spokesperson Tandra Simonton. That conversation was mostly off the record, but Orr said her office will be filing a motion of intervention and details of the move will be available in court documents.

This is not the first time Foxx’s office has denied a request for a Certificate of Innocence after an individual had been exonerated.

In 2023, brothers Sean Tyler and Reginald Henderson were denied their certificates of innocence after they were exonerated of murder convictions that put them behind bars for 25 years. The brothers claim they were tortured into false confessions nearly 30 years ago by corrupt cops trained under disgraced former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge in 1994.

After serving 28 years in prison, Myles filed his request for a Certificate of Innocence on October 31, 2023. The document allows exonerated individuals to get their murder convictions and other criminal charges removed from their records. The document allows them to file claims for hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation from the Illinois Court of Claims.

Myles’ case is one the Crusader has covered for seven years, beginning in 2017.

In 1992, Roosevelt Myles was arrested and jailed after police accused him of killing 16-year-old Shaharain “Tony” Brandon, as he and 15-year-old Octavia Morris were leaving a house on the West Side.

When police Detective Anthony Wojcik and officers visited Morris’ home, she repeatedly told them Myles wasn’t the killer. In addition to having no DNA or fingerprints, Myles didn’t fit the description of the killer. He also had an alibi, someone who saw him exit an apartment building several blocks from the crime scene.

Despite a lack of evidence, in 1996 Myles was convicted of first-degree murder and armed robbery.

In 2000, an Appeals Court granted Myles an evidentiary hearing after Myles claimed his civil rights were violated when his public defender presented a weak defense and provided ineffective counsel.

For the next 16 years, a string of public defenders racked up over 100 continuances before Judge Dennis Porter.

When Attorney Jennifer Bon[1]jean took the case in 2017 from the Public Defender’s Office, Myles’ records showed that little to no defense work had been done on his case.

Under Bonjean, Foxx’s then[1]called Conviction Integrity Unit stopped investigating Myles’ case without explanation.

In 2019, Foxx’s office had Judge Porter dismiss Myles’ case, two days after Foxx herself told Crusader Publisher Dorothy Leavell at an event at the Harold Washington Library that she thought Myles’ case was going to have a positive outcome. Bonjean filed an emergency motion to have Myles’ case sent back to Judge Porter.

Citing a “clerical error,” Foxx’s office went 73 days past the deadline before asking The Appeals Court to give them 60 additional days to respond. The Appeals Court granted the request but eventually ruled in favor of having the case remanded back to Porter, who later retired.

Myles’ case was then assigned to Judge William Raines, a former cop who often sided with Dombrowski and who at one point, pressured Bonjean to subpoena news organizations for material that will help the prosecutor’s case against her client.

Judge Raines stayed on the case for only a year. He was removed from the bench and charged with five counts of judicial misconduct after he was caught on a “hot mic” disparaging Bonjean.

The case was given to Judge Carol Howard in January 2022. Under Howard, the case moved quickly as she held Dombrowski to tight deadlines.

On December 5, 2022, Octa[1]via Morris, after decades of silence showed up at the Leighton Courthouse. She was ready to admit that Myles was innocent, and that she was forced by Chicago police to testify in court that he was a murderer.

A Crusader journalist was present that morning and wrote the story that appeared on the front page of the Crusader newspaper.

Wearing faded jeans and a puffy coat, Morris appeared nervous as she waited in the corridor before Myles’ case was called.

Dombrowski then said, “at this point the People will not be op[1]posing the post-conviction petition that’s pending before the court.”

Judge Howard then said, “Given the State’s motion to drop the charges of three verdicts of guilty and first-degree murder, consecutive 50- and 10-year sentences are vacated, and the State’s motion is granted. These charges against you, Mr. Myles have been dismissed.”

On October 31, 2023, Myles filed a request for his Certificate of Innocence. That same month, he had filed a 39-page federal law[1]suit against the city of Chicago, alleging fabrication of evidence, malicious prosecution and unlawful detention and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

With Foxx’s office’s latest motion, there is concern of even more de[1]lays before Myles’ Certificate of Innocence is granted.

Last October, Myles attended Foxx’s luncheon for wrongfully convicted individuals. The luncheon was at Kennedy King College in Englewood. Photos and video show Foxx smiling and hugging Myles. In one video, Foxx, wearing a black blouse, looks surprised at seeing Myles and says, “Hey! How are you?” Foxx then gives Myles a hug.

It was a meeting where Myles wanted to maintain good relations with Foxx.

“I never said anything bad against her, despite what I had been through,” Myles said. “This hurts a lot.”

In a Crusader story covering the luncheon, Myles said Foxx told him welcome home. He now lives in Peoria, Illinois, and refuses to live in Chicago, traumatized by the scars he received from his experience.

That same story includes a brief interview where a Crusader journalist had asked Foxx why her office fought against Myles’ post-conviction case.

She said, “I think not just his case, but overall, there has to be a greater sense of urgency around these cases. The backlog is huge, the process is onerous. His case was 22 years ago. There are other cases that are 10 years, 15 years, and coming into the last seven years trying to undo work that has been done before. It’s hard.”

Regarding Foxx’s objecting to Myles’ request for a Certificate of Innocence, Cohen said, “I’m very confused by Kim Foxx’s office decision to intervene in his Certificate of Innocence after they threw in the towel.”

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