Friday, May 06, 2011

Pulitzer Prize Winning Newsman William Crawford Seems to Have the Progressive "Justice" Industry Squirming

Ever since the Mumia/Burge/Innocence/Gotcha Medill/Lawsuit Lotto Lawyer collective began charging police officers, City, County, State and Federal Justice Systems with systemic race-based torture, false prosecution and intimidation via editorial board, no newsman has ever questioned the roots of the conglomerate formed to challenge arrests, investigations, prosecutions and incarcerations of career murderers, gang-bangers, arsonists and felons. Until now.

A conglomerate consisting of University based foundations like the MacArthur Center for Justice, the Center for Wrongful Convictions, the Medill School of Journalism, the Innocence Project, lawyers like G. Flint Taylor and Jon Loevy, the editorial boards of the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun Times and iconic columnists have fed off of one anothers input, assent and agendas to undermine any and all confidence in American Justice and Law Enforcement and made millions of dollars for lawyers and their convicted felon clientele. They have exacted millions of dollars from tax-payers via settlements and judgments.

The Jon Burge saga was crafted over three decades of constant drum beats of electric shock, suffocations, burnings, beatings and games of Russian roulette upon black men. However no court has convicted any police officer for torture. Jon Burge was convicted of perjury after years of legal three-card-monte by G. Flint Taylor. The MacArthur Center for Justice's Locke Bowman* who was wildly unsuccessful in tagging Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan with torture charges, contributes a regular screed about Police racism, torture, abuse, intimidation and official cover-ups in the daffy pages of Chicago Huffington Post.

Now the onion seems to be getting peeled. Innocence Project Leader Prof. David Protess is exiled from the Medill classroom over charges of ethics violations and manipulation of student methods. One of David Protess's celebrated clients,Anthony Porter is the subject of William B. Crawford's investigation entitled Chimera.

The Chicago Reader, which for thirty years touted the contributions of John Conroy, if not the the Ahab of Jon Burge, certainly the harpoon tossed by G. Flint Taylor of the Peoples Law Office, offers the work of William Crawford for public reading:

William Crawford is a retired 1973 Pulitzer Prize winning Chicago Tribune investigative newsman. For the last few years, Mr. Crawford has studied the

Last month Northwestern accused Protess of repeatedly giving "false and misleading information" to university lawyers who were trying to deal with a subpoena from the Cook County State's Attorney's Office for certain Innocence Project documents. Dean John Lavine suspended Protess from teaching this quarter and then Protess went on leave to try to reestablish a new Innocence Project outside the university.

Besides Protess's troubles, Sotos has one more thing going for him he didn't have in 2006—an analysis of the Porter/Simon case by William Crawford, a retired Tribune investigative reporter. Crawford tells me he heard about the case, asked Sotos if he could look through the files, and wound up spending three months compiling a hundred-page narrative he calls "Chimera." He's e-mailed it to everyone in Chicago he thinks might possibly care—particularly journalists and Medill faculty. "Our purpose here," Crawford begins, is "to set the record straight [and] get that record in front of those men and women, in private and public office, who are in a position to begin at once the task of righting the colossal wrong that has taken place."

Crawford was able to get Sotos and himself a meeting this week with Bruce Dold, the head of the Tribune's editorial board. (" I can't say if we'll do anything with his research," says Dold.) Other than that—and, I suppose, the column you're reading now—he appears to have accomplished nothing and possibly done Simon harm.

Crawford did an "extraordinary job" of putting the case record into narrative form, Sotos tells me, yet "the level of abrasiveness he brings is counterproductive."

The most flagrant example of that abrasiveness I've seen is an e-mail Crawford sent John Lavine badgering him for a response to "Chimera." Crawford tells me neither Lavine nor Al Cubbage, Northwestern's vice president for university relations, reacted to repeated e-mails until Cubbage finally asked Crawford to leave him alone. Full of typos, Crawford's final e-mail to Lavine ended with this:

"You have a good night. And I will be in that courtroom when you take the shirt off your back and give it to Alstory. And you tell Protess, who threatened me, you tell him, not in your words but in mine that I will kick his ass right up through the openings in both his ear.s [sic]

"My writing, has been sent everywhere: U.s. atty., Madigan, cook county state's attorye, justice department, every editorial writer. It ain't going away. And again, my amigo will own you and your dip shit school."

Crawford admits, "I guess I got a little pissed. If they think they can sit in their ivory tower ten years later and not even acknowledge I'm asking legitimate questions, they're dealing with the wrong person. I'm going to employ the same set of standards they used."

Lavine didn't respond to my request for comment. Cubbage said "Chimera" had no impact on the university's case against Protess, and he personally didn't read it.

Crawford has also repeatedly e-mailed Protess. In March, Crawford spotted an unflattering story about Protess in the Tribune and decided to needle him. "I didn't get a copy of the Tribune this morning. May I borrow yours?" Crawford wrote. Protess responded, "Sure. Which address would you like to have Anthony Porter and his friends deliver it to?" and listed several addresses where Crawford has lived or worked—a flourish Crawford believes was meant to intimidate him.

Exclaims Crawford: "He spends 90 days convincing the world Porter is innocent, and when Protess seeks to exact revenge, it is Porter he is going to send!"

Protess calls his e-mail merely a "jocular counter punch" to a "creepy" e-mail Crawford had sent him a few days earlier:


Question: You ever own a 94 Forest Green Infinity, four door, LP Lyd880

Have a nice night.

Call me, Sapphire, cuz the discovery is going to begin.

Protess says that after seeing the "physical threats" made in Crawford's e-mail to Lavine, he stopped responding to him.

Crawford tells me he actually regards Protess as a secondary figure in the Alstory Simon story. "Chimera" is a tale full of big shots—lawyers, state's attorneys, judges—who Crawford says collectively perfumed Porter and screwed Simon, and he wants them all held accountable. He even says his fear is that Protess has been so weakened by Medill that he will wind up taking the fall alone. "My guess is they can make a sacrificial lamb out of him and then stand up and tell the world, 'We've cured the cancer.'"

Since, according to Crawford, I was the only journalist to actually read his report and get in touch with him, he had high hopes that I'd become his champion. When I asked about his e-mails he sounded forlorn, as if his last shot at making a difference was slipping away. He responded with an e-mail that began, "A final appeal."

"I ask that your story does not become my e-mails. . . " he wrote. "Everyone has a copy of my report. They are all sitting on it, pretending it doesn't exist. And if no one acknowledges it, the hope is it will go away. . .

"I ask you on behalf of a man who deserves rehearing, please keep him in mind. . . . Please do not make Simon pay for my indiscretions."

As for Simon, if there's even half as much reason to think he confessed falsely (as Crawford and Sotos insist there is), he'd make an excellent case study for Protess's Innocent Project. Indeed, says Protess, "I was so interested in Sotos's claim that I had lunch at Ina's with him and [cocounsel] Terry Ekl to hear their side. Their story ultimately didn't add up, and a criminal courts judge agreed."

Sotos remembers the conversation. "We told him we thought in his zeal to free Anthony Porter—which was laudable, they didn't have that strong a case against him originally. They snared an innocent person. He got really defensive."

It is clear that the conglomerate of Progressive Justice Crusaders is squirming.

Keep peeling this onion, Mr. Crawford.

Clinical Professor of Law, Northwestern
Director, MacArthur Justice Center

Locke E. Bowman joined the MacArthur Justice Center in 1992 and has handled a wide variety of civil and criminal litigation. His work focuses on cases involving police misconduct, compensation of the wrongfully convicted, rights of the media in the criminal justice system, and firearms control. He previously served as law clerk to Judge Hubert L. Will of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and was an associate at Mayer, Brown & Platt. He was also an assistant corporation counsel in the City of Chicago Law Department and a criminal defense lawyer at Silets & Martin before joining the center. Based on votes from fellow attorneys, Chicago Magazine named Bowman an Illinois “Super Lawyer” in 2005 and 2006 for his work in constitutional law and civil rights.

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