Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s team formally presented motions to vacate the wrongful convictions of six individuals as part of the office’s ongoing review of the misconduct of corrupt former Chicago Police Sergeant Ronald Watts. Via a Zoom hearing this morning, Cook County Judge Leroy K. Martin, Jr., granted these motions for these six individuals vacating six convictions tied to Watts.
Since State’s Attorney Foxx took office in December 2016, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (CCSAO) has reversed a total of 100 cases involving former Sergeant Watts.
“The seeds of distrust for our criminal justice system run deeply in communities most impacted by violence because of people in power like Sergeant Watts and his cronies who targeted and criminally preyed on these communities, leaving these neighborhoods feeling like their voice didn’t matter,” said State’s Attorney Foxx. “It erodes public safety when people suffer in silence because they’ve lost faith in law enforcement. Today I stand with these communities in saying I hear you and I see you. Your voice does matter. Little by little we will continue to work at restoring justice, like we’ve done today, regardless of what zip code someone calls home.”
The CCSAO’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU), tasked with investigating and addressing claims of wrongful convictions, continued reviewing cases after a pattern of misconduct and criminal actions by Watts was uncovered, resulting in lacking confidence of the initial arrests and validity of the convictions.
“It is always the right time to do the right thing and never too late to deliver justice for those who have been victimized by the criminal actions of those entrusted to protect the community,” said Foxx. “Whether an injustice occurred two decades ago or two months ago, my office’s Conviction Integrity Unit will do our due diligence to thoroughly and promptly correct it. Today’s actions are another step in acknowledging the harm caused to the community and rebuilding the public’s trust in the criminal justice system.”
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. In 2018 her administration acted again, and another 28 individuals were granted conviction relief for their Watts-related cases.
Under the Foxx administration, the work of the CIU has led to vacated convictions of 109 different cases of 89 individuals.