Cook County Anita Alvarez Under Attack For Bizarre Claim In CBS Interview

mosaic_anita143x176I have previously written how Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has lead a national effort to jail citizens who film police in public — a major deterrent to the use of the single most important technology in fighting police abuse. She was previously criticized by the Seventh Circuit for her “extreme” arguments to strip citizens of their first amendment rights. Now Alvarez has added to her rather notorious reputation with a bizarre claim as part of a 60 minutes piece on a litany of wrongful convictions by her office. She suggests that the fact that a serial rapist’s DNA was found on the body was not proof of the innocence of five teens because he might have come across the girl’s dead body later and had sex with it.

The case involves Cataresa Matthews, 14, who was raped and murdered in 1991. Five teens were convicted and became known as the Dixmoor Five. In 2011, they were exonerated when DNA linked a serial rapist to the crime. Alvarez appears in the clip as suggesting that the teens could still be guilty and that the serial rapist raped the corpse later.

Alvarez claims that the segment, “Chicago: The False Confession Capital,” gave a distorted view of her interview and that her statement was taken out of context. She insisted that she was only saying that we do not know, with certainty, what happened at the crime scene.

You can judge for yourself in the interview below. She seems quite clear and ridiculous. There was no DNA evidence of any of the boys at the scene or on the victim.

The question is how long will it take for Chicago to remove Alvarez from office. Between these cases and her campaign against free speech in the filming of police officers, Alvarez is becoming a public menace — at least to constitutional rights and due process.

Source: ABA Journal

35 thoughts on “Cook County Anita Alvarez Under Attack For Bizarre Claim In CBS Interview”

  1. Alvarez is a disgrace to the office. Unfortunately, this is more the general rule than the exception for prosecutors across the country isn’t it?

    Mike S., I am still to this day shocked how damning eyewitness identification (and overall testimony) is given the stats and studies that show it is generally more unreliable than not.

    Speaking of the wrongfully accused, remember the Memphis 3?

  2. What jumps off the video to me is Alvarez’ last statement:

    “I don’t know whether they committed the crime or not. There are still unanswered questions in both of these cases, so I couldn’t sit here today and tell you whether they are all guilty, or all innocent.”

    Wouldn’t that be the perfect time for the 60 Minutes reporter to ask:

    “You have a law degree. Is that not the textbook definition of ‘reasonable doubt?'”

    Lord, love a duck.

  3. Can’t view the film from here in “my” country.
    From the proverbial cop in the cruiser to the Sct, it is rotten.
    All the more reason to stay here and visit after martial law is declared.

    Seriously, are there no processes whereby she can be removed?

  4. Watching that lady at the end, I could not help cry a little myself.
    The state took away my child, my firstborn, the joy of my life too.
    It has put my life into a coasting melancholy for the last year and a half.

    The story is too long to go into here, but I am fighting in court to get her back.
    Also based upon false charges, charges that have already been overturned by a judge. Yet they still won’t give her back.

  5. I think she has all of the requisite qualifications to run for governor and or president….. Defending the office with sever mental issues…..

  6. “There is something deeply rotten in the American justice system…” -Frankly

    Rotten to the core, given my vantage point.

  7. I mentioned this interview in the last thread about her. I have heard the exact same sort of BS from prosecutors in other states and it always makes me wonder; are they really that stupid or are they so afraid to examine their work that they refuse to accept that mistakes were made.

    60 Minutes did a story about a guy who was executed for a murder in GA he didn’t commit. One witness put the guys truck at the murder scene – problem was he didn’t by the truck until a couple months after the killing. Another for rape in Texas where DNA from a convicted murderer/rapist was found & the convicted guy was miles away at the time. Both got the same reaction from the state.

    There is something deeply rotten in the American justice system and it is lawyers who will have to stand up & fix the problem – if for other other reason than they are the experts & they control legislatures everywhere

  8. “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.” —Theodore Parker

    But it should be obvious that Ms Alvarez is cascading through the arc of denial. Ultimately the arc will bend toward justice. -Peter Neufeld, Innocence Project

  9. Those defendants all have something else in common that easy to see when you look at them.

  10. Many confessions are coerced and you can see that almost daily on true crime TV shows that are replete with the official interrogation tapes. Last night I saw one where a man whose wife was concerned about her sister and when they drove over with their infant to check her apartment they found her murdered. The man was immediately brought to the police station and intimidatingly interrogated for 8 hours. Imagine if you came upon the scene of a murdered relative, did your duty and when the police arrived rather than being allowed to process your horror you are endlessly questioned with the implication that you are guilty.

    Police do it because they look for the easiest/quickest solutions. You are asked to take a lie detector test. If you do and fail your’re guilty. If you stand on your rights and on common sense you are presumed guilty. However, if you are a sociopath you likely will pass the unreliable test and cease being a suspect. Also if you react emotionally they see it as “crocodile tears” and if you are unemotional then you seem cold blooded.

    And don’t get me started on eye witness identification.

  11. Innocence Project responds to Anita Alvarez’ response to `60 Minutes’

    Innocence Project co-director Peter Neufeld has emailed me his response to the open letter Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez sent to complain about a report on last Sunday’s broadcast about false confessions in Chicago:

    What I am most concerned with is not Ms. Alvarez’s individual comments which can and will be easily refuted. Rather, it is the fact that her letter reveals that she is simply stuck in denial of the magnitude of the catastrophic consequences suffered by nine young African American men who were stone cold innocent but lost the best years of their lives.

    The first step to improving a situation where mistakes and misconduct occurred in the past is to admit that errors were made. The admission of error is a fundamental first step whether a shuttle crashes, a hospital mishandles a patient or an innocent person languishes in prison for a crime he did not commit. If you can’t first admit error, there is no hope for meaningful improvement or change.

    The most serious aspect of the manner in which Ms. Alvarez has handled these cases, is her utter unwillingness to admit that the Dixmoor and Englewood convictions of nine teenage boys were tragic failures of the criminal justice system.

    Instead of apologizing for the mistakes that were made, she dug her heals in defending the miscarriages of just at every turn in the proceedings.

    In Dixmoor, despite the DNA hit to a convicted rapist who had been released on parole into the victim’s neighborhood shortly before her abduction and murder, and despite the fact that he, unlike the boys, was 20 years older than her with no reason to know her much less deposit his semen in her, it took months of litigation and the young men’s needless continued incarceration, before Alvarez’s office recognized that the writing was on the wall.

    In the Englewood case where a prostitute had been raped and strangled, more than a year after the DNA hit to Johnnie Douglas, who had a lengthy record of strangling prostitutes, Ms. Alvarez’s office opposed all motions to vacate the conviction, claiming absurdly that the new evidence was insignificant.

    After Judge Biebel rejected all of her specious arguments and ruled in favor of the young men, the state was left with no choice but to dismiss the indictments. Nevertheless, Alvarez continued to aggressively oppose in court the young men’s application for certificates of innocence.

    Clearly, as demonstrated by her conduct in these cases and her petulance with 60 Minutes, Ms. Alvarez lacks insight into the causes of wrongful conviction and lacks an appreciation that her job is to do justice for all the people in Cook County, rather than merely defend past criminal convictions no matter what the cost. Here are two of her assertions which are demonstrably false and reflect poorly on her suitability for continuing as the State’s Attorney:

    1. Alvarez: “we have not uncovered any evidence of misconduct by the police officers or the states attorneys that took the statements in these cases”

    My response: You can’t uncover that which you don’t rigorously and objectively investigate. One of the states attorneys who took a confession in the Englewood case was the young Fabio valentini, who currently has risen to be one of Alvarez’s top deputies. I think he is the chief of the criminal bureau. How can she on the one hand protect him while conducting a fair investigation into the facts? In any other situation, the State’s Attorney would recuse herself and ask that the allegations of misconduct be investigatedby someone independent of her office. As for her not finding any evidence of misconduct with respect to the officers is equally damming. At least two of the officers in the Englewood case were responsible for securing other false confessions that Alvarez knows about. Officer Cassidy took false confessions from 7 and 8 year old boys, confessions that were proven false when DNA connected Floyd Durr (a convicted child rapist) to the crime. When prosecuting civilians, prosecutors routinely rely on past mis-behavior of an accused to help prove motive or common scheme. Evidently for Ms. Alvarez, what is good for the goose is not appropriate for the gander.

    2. Alvarez responding to Pitt’s question that years later you find that the DNA found inside the victim’s body belonged to Johnnie Douglas and Johnnie Douglas is a convicted serial rapist and murderer – “that doesn’t tell you he most likely is the person who killed this woman?”

    Alvarez: “No. it doesn’t. is he a bad guy: absolutely, he is. absolutely. But, can we prove, just by someone’s bad background, that they committed this particular crime? It takes much more”

    My response: In the law, one can lie or decieve by omission. Ms. Alvarez’s point is disingenuous and deceptive at best. We are not just talking about a “bad guy.” The victim in the Englewood case was a prostitute who was raped and strangled. Johnnie Douglas’ semen was found inside her. Johnnie Doulas had been convicted of murdering another prostitute by strangulation and assaulting still others by attempted strangulation. Indeed, what she omits from her defense is the fact that years ago, the Cook County prosecutor’s office applied for and secured a court order allowing them to bring up in a second murder prosecution of Douglas that he was nicknamed “Maniac” and that he had a modus operandi of strangling prostitutes. But there is more. She also fails to mention that the initial police report on the Glover murder investigation states that Douglas was at the crime scene at 7:00 AM and when interviewed by policed claimed falsely that he “knew nothing.” Prosecutors often secure convictions based on “false exculpatory statements.” His semen was inside her, yet he claimed to know nothing. She acknowledges in her letter that Douglas had sex with the victim but fails to acknowledge that Douglas lied to the police about having had sex with the victim. Ms. Alvarez also knew that Doulgas lived at least a mile from the area, so it was a little odd that he was in innocently in the area at 7:00 AM. Also, the police would have known at the time that Douglas had been accused of four violent assaults of prostitutes prior to November 8, 1994 when he lied to police about knowing the victim.

    She also fails to mention that no DNA evidence connects the murder to Thames basement, as alleged in the confessions. Not a trace.

    Finally, her claim that she could not prove Douglas guilty beyond a reasonable doubt is contradicted by history. (1) Floyd Durr, described above, was charged based on his DNA and the fact of his prior similar crimes (modus operandi); (2) Corethian Bell case – Bell confessed to killing his mother, but DNA matched to DeShawn Boyd who was charged with a similar crime only blocks away. –DeShawn was charged (and pled guilty to life) based on his DNA and his past crimes; (3) Johnnie Douglas himself – In the second murder prosecution, Douglas was convicted based on his DNA and his prior criminal history (including his prior murder and five prior violent assaults). Douglas was acquitted in the second murder but charges would not have been brought if the state didn’t think they could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt..This case is the same. Douglas is deceased, but if he were alive, he could be charged and proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt based on his DNA and his prior murders (even the murder acquittal would be allowed into evidence) and his prior sexual assaults, not to mention his inexplicable presence at the crime scene which would all be admissible to show his modus operandi.

    I’m sorry but I have run out of time this afternoon. If you wish to discuss it more, we can talk next week when I return home. But it should be obvious that Ms Alvarez is cascading through the arc of denial. Ultimately the arc will bend toward justice. Unlike Ms. Alvarez, so many decent and professional police and prosecutors conduct root cause analyses in order to come to terms with the errors and missteps that lead to these wrongful convictions, they take corrective action, implement improvements, and the community is better for it. Why can’t Anita Alvarez be like them?

    Peter Neufeld


    1. “But it should be obvious that Ms Alvarez is cascading through the arc of denial.”


      My suspicion is that the wonderful Peter Neufeld is being too kind. This isn’t about denial, it is about ruthless ambition towards ever higher office. Like many prosecutors she is using her position to advance her political career and pretend toughness on crime has always been a good selling point.

  12. What OS said.

    But at least she’s getting familiar with the taste of her own feet.

    Hopefully she’ll be adding some crow to her diet.

  13. She makes a good case for mandatory mental health screening before running for public office. Maybe an IQ test to boot.

  14. May the movie based on her life and time in office be entitled: A Meance to Society.

    For now, I would shy away from visiting Chicagoland…you never know if you’ll get caught up in her dragnet.

    1. Thankfully, I have not visited that part of the nation in many years! I hope to avoid returning to the county that gave us Reggie Holtzer, Dave Shields and a host of others luminaries…each of whom, as I recall, graduated to the judiciary after serving in the local State’s Attorney’s office.

  15. Remove her from office?? She’s on the same path as former DA Richie “I can’t form a complete sentence” Daley. She’ll be Da’ Mayor after the Teenie Tiny One leaves for prison.

  16. I lived in Cook County for 50 years and practiced law there for 25 years. Nothing surprises me regarding the incompetence of Ms Alvarez. I am sure that her next appointment will be to a judgeship in the Circuit Court of Cook County where she will join the illustrious ranks of so many noted jurists who rose to prominence as convicted felons.

  17. QUOTE “The question is how long will it take for Chicago to remove Alvarez from office.”

    You know that’s what I ALWAYS wondered about Mayor Daley…..

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