An appellate court panel said a man had “a credible claim” Chicago police tortured him and fabricated an alibi for him, but the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office said it is standing by the 1997 double-murder conviction.
The prosecutors’ statement came in response to a request from the 1st District Appellate Court that the state re-examine the case, even as the panel denied an appeal by the convicted man in his effort to supplement his post-conviction petition with details from an Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission report.
The commission’s 2014 findings cast doubt on Jaime Hauad’s conviction.
The panel’s Dec. 29 decision found that the commission’s report only reassessed previously available evidence but did not contribute new evidence that would warrant a supplement to his postconviction petition.
Even with his avenues for postconviction relief exhausted, the panel placed the onus for review back on the office that prosecuted the case years earlier.
“We recognize that we can no longer dismiss as fanciful allegations of police misconduct and, in particular, allegations of the torture of suspects in custody,” Justice P. Scott Neville Jr. wrote in the 23-page opinion, specifically referencing a 2015 report from the Chicago Reader and a 2016 report in the Chicago Sun-Times. “We have carefully examined the record in this case and conclude that it precludes the relief Hauad seeks. We encourage the [s]tate’s [a]ttorney and the Conviction Integrity Unit to heed the recommendation of the [t]orture commission to further investigate the case and Hauad’s claim that he was tortured while in police custody.”
A spokeswoman for State’s Attorney Kimberly M. Foxx responded, saying the office has already looked into Hauad’s allegations.
“[T]he State’s Attorney’s Conviction Integrity Unit also investigated the defendant’s claims of actual innocence and concluded that there was no evidence to substantiate the defendant’s claims,” Tandra Simonton, the office’s deputy communications director, said in a statement.
One of Hauad’s attorneys — Alison Flaum, the legal director of the Children and Family Justice Center at the Bluhm Legal Clinic within Northwestern Pritzker School of Law — expressed disappointment with the panel’s decision to not let him supplement his petition.
At the same time, she said she was encouraged by the panel’s comments to the state’s attorney.
“The conviction integrity process exists precisely to allow the system to correct wrongs like this one — cases where there is compelling evidence of wrongful conviction but where relief via the courts may prove impossible for reasons that have nothing to do with the merits,” Flaum said in a statement. “Real justice requires nothing less.”
Hauad was convicted of murdering Jose Morales and Jason Goral — and aggravated battery with a firearm — in May 1997. Hauad, Morales and Goral were members of opposing factions of the Maniac Latin Disciples gang.
He was sentenced to two concurrent life terms in prison, plus 15 years for the aggravated battery charge. He is incarcerated at Pontiac Correctional Center in Pontiac, according to state correctional records.
Hauad maintained his innocence during his criminal trial and even then claimed he was tortured by police officers.
His claim of police torture was going to be further examined in his second post-conviction petition. Specifically, Hauad said officers threatened to cut off his toes, and he submitted evidence showing, at different points during his interrogation, he had intact shoes and ones which were cut.
Hauad sought leave to file the second petition in January 2005. A trial court denied Hauad leave, which the 1st District panel affirmed in 2006.
In 2009, the commission was created by state lawmakers to investigate claims of police torture committed by former Chicago police commander Jon Burge and his officers. Burge oversaw a torture regime in the department from the 1970s to the 1990s.
If the commission finds there is enough evidence in a case that torture was used to solicit a false confession, it can refer the case to the Cook County Circuit Court and initiate a new trial.
In a 14-page decision issued on June 18, 2014, the commission found that while Hauad had presented sufficient evidence he was tortured by Chicago police officers, it did not think his case was covered by the underlying statute.
At the time, the act creating the commission defined claims of police torture as those committed by Burge and his officers; other Chicago police officers — like the ones who allegedly tortured Hauad — were not covered. The act was extended in July to cover claims of torture committed by any police officer in Cook County.
Instead of submitting its findings in In re: Claim of Jaime Hauad, No. 2011.025-H to the circuit court, the commission submitted it to the state’s attorney’s office “to determine, inter alia, whether the state’s attorney should agree to a post-conviction petition by the claimant that claimant’s statement should be suppressed, given the evidence of improper conduct while defendant was in police custody.”
Even with the 2014 determination from the commission, the 1st District panel rejected its inclusion in Hauad’s fourth post-conviction petition because it was not newly discovered evidence.
The panel noted that all of the evidence the commission examined was in Hauad’s possession before he submitted his 2005 petition.
“The [t]orture commission’s reassessment of the previously available evidence does not constitute evidence,” Neville wrote.
Other pieces of evidence Hauad sought to add were rejected for the same reason. For instance, he sought to attach a 2003 letter from an assistant U.S. attorney who alleged that another gang member, Nick Maropoulos, claimed credit for ordering the murders of Morales and Goral.
Maropoulos also appeared to own the same kind of car seen driving away from the murder scene; Hauad submitted records from 2005 demonstrating the same information.
But Hauad never explained why he did not attach them to previous post-conviction petitions, the panel repeatedly noted. Neville added that the letter from the federal prosecutor is essentially hearsay, and that there was too large a time gap between the 1997 murder and the 2005 towing record to “strongly support the inference that Maropoulos owned the red car some witnesses may have seen near the crime scene.”
Hauad also called into question the veracity of the statement made by Luz Contreras, who testified she saw Hauad standing over the bodies of Morales and Goral with a gun.
Hauad hired a researcher to track her down, but the search “showed … that a person or persons using that name may have used several Social Security numbers that belonged to persons not named Luz Contreras,” Neville wrote.
Hauad argued Contreras was possibly in the U.S. illegally and that Chicago police used that information to pressure her into framing him. But the panel said the evidence Hauad presented does not make that case.
“Hauad relies on innuendo, without any testimony that Contreras came to the United States illegally, or that police threatened to deport her,” Neville wrote.
Hauad’s fourth post-conviction petition is framed around the argument that, following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455 (2012), the life sentences he received when he was 17 were unconstitutional.
Hauad’s appeal did not focus on the substance of his Miller appeal, and as such, the 1st District panel did not examine its merits.
The state was represented by Cook County Assistant State’s Attorneys Alan J. Spellberg, Clare Wesolik and Christine Cook.
“We are pleased that the appellate court carefully reviewed the record and rejected the defendant’s unsupported claims,” Simonton said.
Hauad was also represented by Rachel B. Cowen of DLA Piper LLP. She did not return a request for comment.
Justices Daniel J. Pierce and Mary Anne Mason concurred with the opinion.
The case is The People of the State of Illinois v. Jaime Hauad, 2016 IL App (1st) 150583.