[Hpn] NYTimes.com Article: Illinois Court Gives Hope to 6 on Death Row

William Tinker wtinker@fcgnetworks.net
Sat, 12 Aug 2000 08:16:34 -0400

This article from NYTimes.com 
has been sent to you by William Tinker  wtinker@fcgnetworks.net.
 Will justice be served here?
 Illinois Court Gives Hope to 6 on Death Row
 August 12, 2000
 SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Aug. 11 -- In a single day, the Illinois Supreme
 Court gave new hope to six  inmates on death row, including two 
 men who say they were tortured into  confessing. 
  In a series of decisions on the  death penalty on Thursday, the 
 state's  highest court ordered hearings on whether the two men,
Derrick King and Aaron Patterson, had  been given poor legal
representation  and had been tortured by Chicago  police officers.
Those hearings could  lead to new trials. 
Mr. King was convicted in 1979 of  fatally shooting a store clerk.
Mr.  Patterson was convicted in 1986 of  killing two people. 
The state has been grappling with  the death penalty because of a
string  of cases in which men were found to  have been wrongly
In January, Gov. George Ryan declared a moratorium on executions, 
 citing evidence of coerced confessions, misconduct by prosecutors 
 and incompetent defense lawyers. 
Thirteen people have been freed  from death row since Illinois
reinstated the death penalty in 1977.  About 160 people are on
death row  now, but Illinois has not executed  anyone since March
The Supreme Court had already  reviewed the King and Patterson 
 cases, upholding the convictions. But  the court decided to relax
its rules  and revisit the cases, "guided by  principles of
fundamental fairness,"  Justice Benjamin Miller wrote. 
Flint Taylor, Mr. Patterson's new  lawyer, said, "It appears to us
to be a  very strong statement by the Supreme Court concerning the
evidence of torture we presented." 
The Cook County state's attorney,  Richard Devine,  defended
prosecutors' handling  of the cases and said  his office might ask
the court to  reconsider its decisions. 
In other rulings on Thursday, the  Supreme Court ordered new
trials  and evidentiary hearings for four  other men on death row.
Two death  row inmates' appeals were turned  down. 
The court rejected a Polish citizen's plea that his murder
conviction  and death sentence be overturned,  but one justice
raised the possibility  of returning the man to Poland to  serve a
sentence there. The inmate,  Gregory Madej, 40, was convicted in 
 the 1981 rape and stabbing death of a  Chicago woman. 
Justices upheld the death sentence  for Patrick Page, who had been 
found guilty of two killings in Cook  County in the 1980's.  
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