For the fifth time, the Cook County State's Attorney has approved mass exonerations for a group of men wrongly convicted of drug crimes while under investigation by corrupt Chicago Police Sgt. Ronald Watts.
In a courtroom at 26th and California, Judge LeRoy Martin, Jr. on Tuesday morning approved a motion by attorneys of 12 men to vacate the convictions. Later, these men will file the legal paperwork for certificates of innocence.
Already 62 men and women have won such certificates under this first-of-its-kind review by the Cook County State's Attorney’s Convictions integrity unit.
“This is a stain on the city that this was allowed to go on for as long as it has,” attorney Joshua Tepfer explained. “It was time to put a stop to it.”
Tepfer said another 96 cases are pending.
State's Attorney Kim Foxx was on hand Tuesday to personally apologize to the wrongfully convicted men, although none of the improper convictions happened during her administration.
“I think it is important to acknowledge the harm that has been caused,” Foxx said.