Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Judge Sniffs Your Briefs, Does not Like What She Smells

Great article at:

Journalism and Law students at Northwestern University who have been involved in the Northwestern University Innocence Project are being rung up in the Cook County Courts for the crime of being interested in justice, see:  That's right, student participants from in and around  Chicago are being subjected to ad hominem attack by the Illinois State Attorney.  The State Attorney's office has subpoenaed student records and grades in an effort to attack the credibility of the innocence project participants.  Huh?  Yes indeed, sometimes lawyers (including prosecutors) will abuse the legal process to harass and intimidate persons they view as thwarting them; you know helping to prove that some poor schmuck doing twenty years-to-life is actually,  hmmmm how do we say....INNOCENT!  What could a Innocence Pproject participant's grades possibly have to do with whether or not an inmate was wrongfully convicted years before?  Well, there is some sort of twisted logic at work, I assure you--goes something like this:  Miss Coed will get a better grade if she gets a witness to recant testimony that the prosecutor used to convict Joe Inmate--thus, the prosecutor reasons that he should look right up Miss Coed's academic skirt.   Pardon the expression, this is the classic fishing expedition.

Now in a perfect world, Judge Diane Cannon (no relation to Dyan Cannon) who is the Cook County Circuit Judge presiding over the matter would sua sponte (on her own without being asked to) tell the State's attorney to go pound salt--instead Judge Cannon asked for briefs, and the good folks at Sidley Austin (a high priced Chicago law firm, that either represents Northwestern or is representing these kids on a pro bono pledge) submitted a brief that the Judge took umbrage at.  It's interesting to me because one or more things may be going on:--perhaps the Judge is biased against the innocence project efforts; perhaps the Judge is a stickler for formalites and local court rules; perhaps the Judge was offended by the sarcastic and elitist tone of Sidley Austin lawyers' brief; perhaps, the Judge views the matter seriously and feels that the only way to deal with the competing interests is for everyone to act like adults so she can issue a ruling that comports with her view of the issues.

In all likelihood Judge Cannon will do the right thing and send the right message to the State's Attorney, Sidley Austin's attorneys do noone a favor by submitting a brief filled with invective and sarcasm.

After all, that's my job.

For more on the underlying case, see:

1 comment:

  1. Above the Law Blog has the brief as a pdf and is polling its readers as to whether they think the Judge was correct to be annoyed. The consensus seems to be that the brief was acceptable although one writer says the word "utter" was overly-uttered, he he.