Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx announced today that the office moved to vacate the wrongful convictions for an additional 12 individuals as part of the office’s ongoing review of the misconduct of corrupt former Chicago Police Sergeant Ronald Watts. Since SA Foxx took office in December 2016, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office (CCSAO) has moved to vacate a total of 94 cases involving former Sergeant Watts.
The CCSAO’s Conviction Integrity Unit (CIU), tasked with investigating and addressing claims of wrongful convictions, is reviewing these cases after a pattern of misconduct by Watts was uncovered which has significantly impacted the confidence in the initial arrests and validity of the convictions.
“I am extremely proud of the work of our Conviction Integrity Unit and this office as we seek to do justice, restore trust, and address the historic inequities of Cook County’s criminal justice system,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx. “As many of these arrests and convictions occurred nearly two decades ago, a thorough analysis was required. However, it is always the right time to do the right thing and never too late to deliver justice for those who have been stigmatized and traumatized by the unlawful actions of those entrusted to protect the community.”
Today prosecutors formally presented the motions at the Leighton Criminal Courts Building in Chicago to Cook County Judge Leroy K. Martin, Jr., who granted the motions and vacated thirteen convictions of twelve individuals.
In 2017, the Foxx administration initiated court action regarding cases involving Watts when 18 individuals had convictions vacated. In 2018, the administration took action again and another 28 individuals were granted conviction relief.
“We will continue to review these cases and provide legal remedies when appropriate for the wrongfully accused as we work to right the wrongs of the past,” added Foxx.
The work of the CIU has led to vacated convictions in over 100 cases for 83 people under the Foxx administration.