Prosecutorial Misconduct in the case of Rolando Cruz from Illinois
The term prosecutorial misconduct is used to describe a defense in which the defended aims to put a case in his defense so that he is not made liable for the mistakes they are deemed to have committed. Their argument in this case is to show that the prosecution side didn’t act in accordance with the proper procedure. The most common forms of prosecutorial misconduct include acts like giving false confession, falsely arresting people, giving false evidence and police exercising brutality to the arrested people. Others are abusing the people sexually, abuse of people based on race and lastly political repression. In this paper we are going to discuss the Prosecutorial Misconduct in the case of Rolando Cruz from Illinois. We shall describe the case, the misconduct and what was done wrong by Investigators and/or Prosecutors. (Burris, pg 004)
This case happened in February of 1985.the case was of a Hispanic man called Roland Cruz from Illinois. Roland and Alejandra Hernandez were sentenced wrongfully to death. They were accused of the crimes of kidnap, raping and murdering of Jeanine Nicarico who was ten years old. The girl was from the du page county of the Illinois state. Before the date of sentence .the accused person, Rolland, was not of significance in this case until when he showed himself up claiming the reward of $10,000 for giving information that could lead to the discovery of the murder of Jeanine. He was to come up with a fabricated story regarding this incident. Because of the intense pressure that was pilling on the prosecution to bring to book to book the culprits of the murder case, the prosecution decided to abide by the story of Rolland’s quilt. Despite this, there were some of the investigating officers that had some reservations regarding the quilt of the self professed murderer. A case in example is the one of the detective that was involved in this case. Because he could not stand giving false information regarding the defense of the accused, he stepped down. Additionally, the assistant attorney general, Mary Brigit also followed suit. Her reason was that she was being cowed into accepting to prosecute somebody who was not guilty of the offense. The events that followed this, were the conviction of Cruz, Alejandra and Barkley were found guilt of the offence of murder and rape. This was happening despite the fact that there was no evidence to back their being convicted. In this sentence, Cruz and Hernandez were given the death sentence for these offenses. The third co-accused was not given a sentence as the bench was not agreeing on his case. After their conviction, in November of 1985, dugan was prosecuted and found guilty of the offenses of homicide at Kane in the county of LaSalle. It was in Dugan’s case that he confessed of having raped and killed the 10 year old Jeanine but the case could not hear of this. The judges in the case of Cruz having had this evidence still went ahead and prosecuted Cruz and his co-accused and disregarded this set of new evidence that could acquit them. It was only in 1990 that there was a team of volunteers who agreed to help Cruz to file an appeal for his case. The team was involved in a vigorous process that lasted for four years up to which the Supreme Court agreed to reverse the sentence of Cruz and give him a chance for a hearing. Before the retrial started there was some DNA evidence that sort to exonerate Cruz and his co-accused and hipped all the blame on Dugan for the offence of rape. Later after the trail the three were found to be innocent of the crimes they were accused of and the judges pronounced the no guilty verdict on them. They were thus acquitted of the crime and the jury decided that they be paid a compensation of $3.5 million. Eventually in 2002, Cruz was pardoned by the governor of Illinois State (Zorn, Burris failed his only major test in office as AG”)
The misconduct that was done by Investigators and/or Prosecutor
This include acts like; false confession. This is where a witness or accused gives false information regarding a case at hand. This is so evident in the case of Cruz and the other co-accused. Because of the price attached to the information regarding the murder and rape of the girl, Mr. Cruz decided to give the false testimony that he was the culprit for the crime just to get the compensation. To prove this, there were a number of people that stepped down so that they could not be party to the falsehood that was being peddled as regards the case. First, it was the detective that was dealing with the case who stepped down when he was asked to testify in the defense of the accused. This was followed by the resignation of the assistant attorney general who was protesting the conviction of an innocent man. In 1992, the attorney general dealing with this case wrote a memo to the court detailing the many misgivings and errors that were evident in the investigation and trials. She was of the opinion that the evidence presented was perjured. She was also of the opinion that the investigation done by the officers in the case was fraudulent. The truth was to come out later when the DNA results were released and it was found that Cruz and his co-accused were not really culpable for the crimes and that it was only Dugan who was responsible for all. The false testimony misconduct is also evident in the case where the sheriffs lieutenant who had give the prime evidence to prosecute Cruz later admitted for giving false information in court. (Burris, pg 004).
Secondly, there is the corruption. This is evident in the case in several ways. For example when the lead detectives and the attorney general resigned for not trusting the credibility of the accused person as the culprit the court went ahead and prosecuted Cruz for rape and murder. Additionally, in the light of the evidence that was presented by Dugan that was presented during the trial for case of rape against him that he said he was the person who committed the offence; the court still went ahead and ignored the evidence. They give preferential treatment to Dugan and discriminated upon Cruz and his group by unlawfully prosecuting them knowing very well they were not guilty. The prosecutorial corruption is also evident in the events that followed the aftermath of the trial of Cruz. The sheriffs and the prosecutors were accused of the charges of obstructing justice and giving false information to the court.
Lastly there is the aspect of intimidation is also so evident in the case of Cruz .first there is the intimidation to the officials. This is evident in the wave of resignations that follow the case of Cruz and his co-accused. The attorney general resigns to protest the unfair prosecution of the defendants. This is preceded by the resignation of the investigating officer attached to this case. The accused are also intimidated in their quest for justice. This is despite the fact that they had through so many appeals against the rulings in the court. Despite the court having information that Dugan was the one responsible for the crimes, they continued holding Cruz and his co-accused.the court even refused to abide by the new evidence claiming they cannot go against the ruling of the jury (Burris, pg 004)
Burris, Roland W. “Letters.” Illinois Issues. Pgs 4 & 7. 1994 print.
Zorn Eric “Burris failed his only major test in office as AG”. Chicago Tribune. 2008 print.