On April 12, it was reported that an Illinois man who spent 21 years in prison received a $13 million award for a wrongful conviction. The man was convicted and incarcerated after he signed a murder confession that was allegedly drafted by Cook County prosecutors and officers with the Chicago Police Department.
The man, who was 20 years old at the time, was convicted for the deaths of two individuals in 1995. There was evidence that the man was in police custody on a disorderly conduct charge when the two individuals were killed in their apartment three years earlier. When he was taken into police custody on a drug charge at a later date, he claimed that the authorities coerced him through mental and physical abuse into signing a false confession.
He had long contended that he was coerced into signing the false confession. The murder charges against him were ultimately dismissed by prosecutors in 2014. The award was given to the man, now age 45, by a federal jury.
If a person is accused of a violent crime that they did not commit, a criminal defense attorney may request an appeal especially if there is evidence of coercion or tampering by prosecutors or police. The attorney may work to uncover weak points in the case, including false allegations that were made, information that may be contradictory or even other evidence that may cast doubt on whether or not the defendant was involved in the crime. For example, the attorney may make use of evidence that shows that the defendant could not have committed the crime due to already being in custody or if there is a strong alibi.
Source: U.S. News & World Report, “Man Receives $13 Million in Lawsuit Over Wrongful Conviction“, Associated Press, April 12, 2017