Sunday, March 14, 2010

Thaddeus Jiminez

Until yesterday, I had never heard of the name Thaddeus Jimenez. I doubt any of you have either. He was tried in Chicago as an adult for murder when he was 13. The Cook County State's Attorney prosecuted the case. He was convicted and sentenced to 50 years in prison.

He was given a second trial due to errors during voir dire in the first trial. He was convicted the second time, but sentenced to 45 years. 

The murder occurred in 1993. It appeared to be gang related. There was evidence linking a different person to the killing. The evidence was an audio recording of him confessing. The real murderer was 14. CPD detectives were given the audio recording. It was ignored.

TJ's trial judge ruled the recording was inadmissible. But it shouldn't have even gone to trial and been an evidentiary issue.

Not surprisingly, there was no physical evidence tying TJ to the shooting. The entire case was based on eyewitness testimony. As it turned out, it was perjured testimony.  

Northwestern Law School has a Center for Wrongful Convictions. In 2005, it started looking into TJ's case. In 2007 they gave the information they put together to the State's Attorney's office. 2 witnesses recanted their testimony. One of them claimed the police threatened and coerced him into implicating TJ.

Armed with this new evidence and recanted testimony, a petition for post-conviction relief was filed with the judge who presided over TJ's second trial. It was dismissed as being "frivolous", and was given no hearing.

To its credit, the State's Attorney's office continued to investigate, despite the judge's ruling on the petition. And in May 2009, the SA's office joined a motion with defense counsel to vacate the conviction. A judge granted the motion. The prison doors opened. TJ walked out. 16 years older. Free at last.

Together with some private Chicago attorneys and, I am sure, hundreds of hours of help by law students, authorities were somehow convinced they had prosecuted the wrong man...errr I mean boy.

Here is a nice brief summary of the case. Watch the video about "TJ's" exoneration. It's compelling stuff.

Imagine being sent to prison at 13 and then being released when you're 29. Those 16 years are gone. Think about all the fun and crazy stuff you did during those same 16 years in your life. Who would you be if you were TJ? Would you even be able to function in free society?

TJ spent 16 years in prison and now the authorities have finally charged the likely real killer. And guess what? It's the same person the police were told did it back in 1993. For 16 years that person thought he had gotten away with murder, literally. But for the effort of lawyers, not cops, he would have. I am proud to be a member of the same bar.

This is the kind of stuff I am butting my head up against. Once the police think they have the right guy, it's done. The detectives cherry-pick and bend facts around their theory of the case. However, the theory has to develop around the facts, not the other way around.

You can read written witness statements and tell the story was fed by the police. How do I know? The language in the statements is a dead giveaway. It's all canned police talk. The words in the statement are not the words of the witness. Normal people don't say or write "subsequent to the incident, I observed the offender flee eastbound on 1st Street." That's cop talk. The only people that talk like cops, are cops.

The above quoted sentence is a detective making a statement that the witness will sign as his own. I am often offended that they think they're so smart and that no one will really work up the file. Again, they are playing the odds. They know most can't afford private counsel and the PD's office is too overworked to mine through every case.  

Once the police have the case where they want it, anything potentially favorable to the suspect is ignored. 

You have to appreciate how public perception works. When a horrible crime makes the news the public sometimes goes into shock. And as soon as an arrest is made, there is relief. The story stops being covered by the media and is quickly forgotten. But no one ever asks if the right person was arrested.

I have yet to see one article with a title such as: Man arrested for July 2001 murder of Englewood gang member found not guilty. Why?

No one cares. Really. They don't.

The list of people being exonerated is growing yearly. And many are freed from death row. We, as defense attorneys, need to prevent the wrongful conviction in the first place.

It's our job to make sure the police and prosecutors do their job. To aid us, we have discovery, cross-examination, and hopefully acute attention to detail coupled with critical thinking.

I don't know if this is true across the country, but here the presumption of innocence is a myth. Once the case is clear/closed for prosecution (meaning there was an indictment or probable cause finding), that suspect is guilty as far the government is concerned. I have yet to see one case the grand jury didn't indict.

I would really like to know if a prosecutor ever tells a detective to re-open the case because they got the wrong person. I doubt that it ever happens. Once the case passes felony review, it's the State's job to prosecute the case. There is no looking back.

Well, unless you force them to look back. And I applaud TJ's lawyers for forcing them to do so. Must have been a Herculean effort.

I hate to have to mention it, but this case is yet one more example of problems with the death penalty. Two trials. Two convictions. A judge that wouldn't grant a hearing though faced with exculpatory evidence. And a later "Oops, we go the wrong guy."

The system fails. In TJ's case the error was eventually corrected, but his case is rare. I have a feeling it got a lot of attention because he was 13 and tried as an adult for murder. That fact made someone want to dig a little deeper. Not too many cases get this kind of treatment. 

I wonder how many innocent people are sitting in prison right now with life sentences or on death row?

Knowing what I know, the thought makes me shudder.



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  3. Carolyn Nielsen I'm asking you to turn over everything you have pertaining to the case and do not abuse the legal system as well as THADDEUS JIMENEZ defending lawyers in my opinion have done time and time again. Remember YOU AND YOUR FAMILY may be effected just as much as us innocent citizens may be effected by the release into society of these repeating criminals. Please seriously think long and hard but ultimately most of all please do the right thing. His arrest records speak for themselves, I THINK. I'm sure the more they dig the more they will find out and prove. At least TJ is kind enough to continually give us proof of who and what he is regardless of his lawyers covering up and keeping a lid on it.

  4. I bet you people look like fools to the honest people crying wolf that Thaddeus Jimenez was wrongly convicted. Was he wrongly convicted every time he has been arrested? Is he really a victim? Is he also wrongly convicted of his recent arrest while unemployed in the posession of a loaded shotgun and two semi automatic calibers, six navigations that were stolen or lost, LSD??? Are you for real? In my opinion something stinks and here we go again THE PEOPLES WASTED TAX DOLLARS FOR THESE WRONGFUL SETTLEMENTS NOT TO MENTION THE SAFETY OF THE INNOCENT CITIZENS IN SOCIETY PUT AT STAKE BY THESE REPEATED CRIMINALS. If he is found to be anything but innocent he and these lawyers should have to pay back the state for every dime not belonging to them and then I wouldn't mind these lawyers getting a sentence to be used as an example to stop CROOK COUNTY LAWYERS from abusing the system because of theire connections. We are all aware of what has happened however someone must have some integrity out there to put a stop to it!!!

  5. You lawyers are disgusting crooked liars and more crooked than Thaddeus Jimenez is. I only hope your children turn into TJ, better yet may you and your children absolutely become victimized by TJ. May he give your children the drugs to take and may they overdose, may he use those loaded weapons on you and your family and may he be in posession of stolen items from what belongs to you and last but not least may he use his repeated violent aggravation towards you. You release the monster on the streets, and may you and only you live in his world. I would seriously think about stopping your continuing and publicizing lies about TJ being a victim. How do you look at yourself in the mirror? People like you liars ruined this world.
    Be man enough to share these comments with all the so called proud lawyers that got TJ released into society and put a bullet to your heads because that is what you deserve for releasing garbage into society. I am not upset at TJ for being who he is however all the people who have paired up to release him should pay the consequences for what he does to society

  6. Mr. Schantz don't shudder, that's a bunch of B.S. and you know it! Lawyers are PROFESSIONAL LIARS and I'm sick of it. Do you have a conscious??? I highly doubt it if you say you shudder at the innocent people in jail well I shudder at the repeated criminals low life lawyers release into society all for fame and the almighty dollar.

  7. To the last comment: Yes, I have a conscious. And it does bother me that innocent people are locked up. But I am no way in the business of putting dangerous people back on the street for fame and fortune. Doing criminal defense work here in Chicago will never bring fortune nor fame.

    If some attorneys, as you say, are professional liars, I don't rub elbows with them. I work alone and I never lie. About anything.

    As a criminal defense attorney, it is our job to hold the government to the rules that our legislators and courts have created. If the police take short cuts on the streets and/or the prosecutors office doesn't play fairly then our job is to call them on that.

    In some cases, that could set a potentially dangerous person free. I, myself, don't accept those types of cases. Why? Because I do have a conscious.

    Every serious case I defend has a defendant on the end of it that I feel is innocent. If you have such a horrible view of myself and my colleagues, I pray you're never wrongfully accused of a horrible crime and sent to prison for it.

    Then you might know what it feels like to be innocent but convicted and sentenced. Then, and perhaps only then, might you see how important an attorney is to some.

  8. I am a friend of TJ's and I have to say that society let him down and the courts dropped the ball, Anything that comes from his release only can be blamed on the corupt system that handed down such an injustice. You took 16 years of his life how are YOU going to give that back and YOU wanted 50 AH AH GOOD LUCK TJ! LOVE BROTHER! Scrappy

  9. Hey Scrappy its me TJ. I dont care what these people think. But thanks for the support. I really appreciated it. I hope you and your family are doing well. Im doing just great myself. I have a 7 months old son. My little prince. And a beautiful fiance' and we're happy. Lets meet up. I want u to meet my family. Ed-mail at And thanks to Schantz took. We need more heros like you and my attorneys. Dont get discourage by the nasty and hurtful things people say. Ime quite sure these people have personally motivated reasons for tryingbto portray me as a villain.

  10. TJ you know who and what you are. You can lie and try to fool everyone else but when you look in the mirror you can't lie and fool yourself! These people speak from their experience of knowing you and dealing with your scum bag lawyers. Have a good life buddy but remember what goes around comes around full circle! As for your son, May God help him!!!


Please feel free to offer comments and opinions. However, if you require legal assistance please call 312-504-4554 to speak with me personally.