Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx recently announced that the office will not oppose petitions filed by 48 individuals (representing 54 cases) requesting their cases be dismissed as part of the office’s ongoing review of misconduct by corrupt former Chicago Police Sergeant Ronald Watts. Since State’s Attorney Foxx took office in December 2016, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (CCSAO) has moved to vacate a total of 134 cases involving former Sergeant Watts.
“The people whose names were read today are victims, victims of a failed system, and nothing will ever be able to give them back their time away from their families or their missed opportunities in life, but we have a responsibility to act,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. “The number of claims against this one Sergeant is an example of why as prosecutors, we approach every case with an eye toward the facts, the evidence, and the law for both the cases we’re currently working on as well as those from the past. I’m grateful for the attorneys in this office who continue to seek justice, restore trust, and address the historic inequities of Cook County’s criminal justice system.”
Today in court, prosecutors declined to oppose specific petitions for relief from judgment presented to Cook County Presiding Judge Erica Reddick during a hearing at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building in Chicago. After reviewing the petitions, the court granted relief, and as such, prosecutors moved to vacate the convictions and sentences and dismiss the cases, which was allowed by the Court.
The remaining cases that the CCSAO will not oppose relief from judgment will be divided between two upcoming court dates, February 8 and 16, 2022.
“It has taken herculean efforts to try and undo the harm done by a group of corrupt police that the Chicago Police Department allowed to run rampant and unabated for a decade,” said Joshua Tepfer of the Exoneration Project. “Sergeant Watts inflicted irreparable damage to individuals, families, and the African American community. We are grateful that the current State’s Attorney has put action to words and demonstrated that these Black Lives do matter. The work will continue.”
“These victims have been waiting years to have their voices heard,” said Joel Flaxman of the Law Office of Kenneth N. Flaxman P.C. “Nothing can fully right the wrongs inflicted by Watts and other corrupt officers, but we welcome every step toward justice. The dismissal of these cases is an important step forward.”
The CCSAO is tasked with investigating and addressing claims of wrongful convictions and continues to review cases after a pattern of misconduct by Watts was uncovered which has significantly impacted the confidence in the arrests and validity of the facts underlying the convictions.
In 2017, newly in her role as State’s Attorney, Foxx directed her administration to initiate court action regarding cases involving Watts, resulting in 18 individuals who had their convictions vacated that year. Today, more than 100 individuals have had cases related to Watts vacated.
Under the Foxx administration, as of today, the work of the CCSAO has led to vacated convictions of 143 different cases of more than 105 individuals. Anyone who wishes to have a case reviewed by the CIU can fill out a request form.