Chnicago "crime guns" (courtesy abc7chicago.com)

“Even though they’re winning seven of every 10 gun cases, Cook County prosecutors acknowledge they’re having a tougher time getting convictions,” chicago.suntimes.com reports. “In part, that’s because of the public’s concern over police tactics in the wake of high-profile shootings of African-Americans by police officers around the country, according to both prosecutors and defense attorneys. They say that’s caused growing skepticism among jurors about the credibility of police officers.” This in the city where a police officer tortured over 200 prisoners to force confessions. Who could have guessed? But apparently it’s worse than it used to be . . .

“It is probably more difficult to prove these gun possession cases than it has been in the past,” said Fabio Valentini, chief of the criminal prosecutions bureau for the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. “I think it makes sense that the events of the last couple of years have affected the way that jurors look at police narratives.”

The article says that police collected about 7,000 illegal guns in 2014, and about 5,500 in the first nine months of 2015. In 2013, Chicago seized 6,800 guns. That’s a total of 19,300 guns for 2013, 2014 and the first nine months of 2015. In the same period, there were 5,700 illegal gun possession cases decided in the Cook County court system in the same period, about 3.4 guns per case.

I suspect that quite a few of the guns collected do not come from criminal activity, but simply from someone inheriting a gun that they have no interest in, and which they have difficulty legally disposing of. There are no gun stores in Chicago proper, so a person unfamiliar with guns could be uncertain about how to dispose of a firearm. Turning it in to police might seem the safest option.

Some 4,100 of the 5,700 cases ended in convictions, the vast majority from plea bargains. In the other 1,600 cases, the defendants were not convicted. In about 600 cases, the prosecutor dropped the charges. It is not clear how many of the remaining 1,000 cases were cleared by a judge, and how many ended in jury trials.

It seems that skeptical jurors are making sure that the police follow the rules more carefully, and that the court system is biased towards plea bargain, resulting in “revolving door justice” and a rising toll of firearms-related crime.

©2015 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.
Gun Watch

45 Responses to Why Are Chicago Police and Prosecutors Failing to Convict on Illegal Gun Possession?

  1. The whole plea-bargain thing has become a very large and still-growing problem. It really erodes at the principles we would want our justice system to rest on.

    BTW, if you haven’t already, read “Three Felonies a Day.”. It’s both eye-opening and frightening, especially if your occupation is a professional anything.

    • Exactly. Plea-bargaining violent criminals is exactly why violent criminals keep getting unleashed upon the law-abiding. What good is it to have “illegal gun possession” add-ons, ostensibly there to facilitate catching violent criminals, if the charges that would keep them behind bars where they belong routinely get plea-bargained down?

      • Well, our prisons are at capacity and the public will pitch a screaming fit if taxes are raised to pay for new prison construction.

        Not to mention what the ACLU will think if the race ratio in those prisons starts to skew heavily towards a particular ethnicity.

        Some very uncomfortable realities…

        • Prison capacity wouldn’t be an issue if we stopped locking up people for non-violent, malum-prohibitum crimes.

        • Then examine WHO is filling those prisons…are they the violent thugs or non-violent law breakers that chose NOT to plea bargain (ie, roll the dice with a jury) and/or didn’t have that good a lawyer?

          It has been pretty well established in numerous studies now that a large percentage of the violent crime is committed by a very small percentage of even the “criminal” population.

          THOSE violent ones are who should be in prison. Yet, they seem to be the very ones the revolving door keeps letting out.

          There should NEVER be “He had a rap sheet a mile long” in the news. It should not get to that point. Multiple armed robberies, assaults, etc…the question needs to be asked “How are THESE the guys that are slipping through the system, yet the prisons are full of someone ELSE?”

        • “Prison capacity wouldn’t be an issue if we stopped locking up people for non-violent, malum-prohibitum crimes.”

          An *excellent* point.

          We can go a long ways if we open the eyes of the public to jury nullification.

          Picture a billboard campaign:

          Unjust laws. What can we do?
          Jury nullification. Google it.

          Get a buzz going on the concept.

          I bet it would avalanche.

        • ““How are THESE the guys that are slipping through the system, yet the prisons are full of someone ELSE?””

          I believe they are scared of the political fallout of a prison population that skews heavily to a particular ethnicity.

        • @ Sian, who said “Prison capacity wouldn’t be an issue if we stopped locking up people for non-violent, malum-prohibitum crimes.”

          How about instead, let’s execute the really violent ones, instead of letting them live on the tax dollar for the rest of their worthless lives?

          Actually, now that I consider a bit longer, make that in addition. Prohibition didn’t work with alcohol, and the “war on drugs” isn’t working now.

      • Yup! It appears to be a Model “B”; and as an NFA weapon, it was probably stolen from its registered owner. It’s worth a small mint!

        Legally and morally, CPD is required to return this to its legal owner shown on the ATF’s National Firearms Registration and Transfer Record.

        Any bets that this will happen???

        • Wouldn’t that be before serial numbers? Does NFA require putting a serial on the weapon? If there’s no serial, how could even *honest* cops find the owner to return it to?

  2. I see the judicial being overwhelmed and plea bargaining 72% conviction rate says lawyers & judges take the least path of resistance. Meaning that pesky Bill of Rights thing stands in the way of them having a higher success rate.

    • Everyone thinks it’s the 2nd amendment that results in high murder rates, but I think it’s obviously the 4th and 5th. Seriously, are heinous organized criminals walking the streets of Japan with multiple attempted murders and suspected involvement in murders dotting their records? Do killers in Norway feel like they can just keep their mouths shut and get their free lawyer to force a plea bargain based on procedural violations? Real freedom looks real scary, that’s why they have been staring at us with their jaws dropped for over 200 years.

  3. If you’re not from here, you have no idea of the crooked tactics that Chicago politics and in turn law enforcement play here. ***Disclaimer***In no way accusing rank and file.
    Guns have for the most part been illegal in Chicago for so long and everyone still thinks that way. Cops take guns because they don’t want to be the guy that let someone with a gun, go. Once your gun has been seized, it essentially disappears. You never get it back. Thrown on a table with a tag, and shown on the 10o’clock news with a bunch of others as a bunch of “illegal” guns.

    The guns aren’t illegal, the possession is. But the possession is only illegal, because they make it so difficult for an average Chicago resident to be a law abiding firearm owner. Still. Even after McDonald.

    • Without crime you have no budget to fight it, if you get rid of crime, like getting rid of all guns, the need for cops and laws will go away.

      • “Did you really think we want those laws observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them to be broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against… We’re after power and we mean it… There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Reardon, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”
        –Ayn Rand, ‘Atlas Shrugged’, 1957

  4. I hope at least some of these cases are the result of thoughtful juries signaling that the laws being pushed are violations of the rights of the individual.

    • That’s why educating our fellow citizens on the concept of jury nullification needs to be a priority.

      Power to the people and all…

    • Even in the Waco biker case? You sir are obviously just another anti-cop radical Our police officers have CLEARLY earned our 100% support and respect and the “AUTHORITIES” should never be questioned by a mere civilian such as you. Now shut up and do as your told citizen.

  5. What if everyone refused to plea bargain? Go to trial.

    What sounds like a good idea on the surface has unintended consequences. People who are really guilty of heinous stuff like violent crime get to skate on lesser charges, while people who should not be charged with crimes that should not be crimes get caught up, too. If the courts could only handle serious, violent crime, would society have all these lesser laws? I hope not.

    • On the first day of law school criminal class the professor told us that the entire justice system could be brought to a standstill immediately if every defendant simply refused to plea bargain and demanded a speedy jury trial. Sure hope the criminals never unionize!

      • I strongly disagree! I think the criminals should, as you say, organize or join a union. I think they should all demand a jury trial.

    • Except that plea bargains have incentives on both sides. You may have a 100% slam dunk on the lesser charge, but a 75% case on the stronger charge. You could go to trial on both of those and see what happens, or you can save yourself the time and the taxpayers the money by convincing the defendant to plead to the charge you know you were guaranteed to win on. From the defendant’s perspective, he gives up the chance of acquittal, but he doesn’t risk conviction on the stronger charge.

      There may be over reliance on plea bargains in the current system, but I think the bigger problem is the quantity of non-violent offenses we have created, as others have said. The criminal justice system would be much less burdened if there were fewer of those offenses to deal with and they could focus on the small number of people who actually cause the vast majority of the violence.

      • Or, quite often, the prosecution has no case at all, so they throw every charge they can think of at the accused in order to scare him with a possible big sentence and a ruined life, so innocent people take a plea for a minor charge.

  6. For those of you not familiar with Chicago politics, there is a long and fairly well documented history in Chicago of politicians being closely tied to gangs. Forgotten most of the specifics, but in the neighborhood of a year ago one of the Chicago papers did a feature on city councilman who had business relationships with gang leaders. There are more than one Chicago City Council member that have been bought and paid for by local gangs.

    There is no proof, to my knowledge, of the mayor or police commissionor having those same ties. On the other hand, wouldn’t be shocked to discover that they do. This is Chicago after all. Home of one of the most powerful, and corrupt, political machines in America.

  7. Chicago prosecutors can’t get convictions because of weak gun laws in other states. Or something like that.

    Or are the Democrats blaming global warming this week? It’s hard to keep track of their excuses.

  8. Yikes! Unlike “P” I AM accusing rank & file. Whining because they can’t “po-leece” without a camera trained on them. I lived in the city for 6 years and nearby for 32. It’s much worse and corrupt than outsiders even realize. The prevailing attitude is “he’s guilty of sumpin’ “. My idea for the enormous #’s of plea bargains? How about chain gangs/work crews? The roads are in sad shape and guys making 13cents/hour may be the ticket…

  9. The progressives who run Chicago like things the way they are. Most of these cases involve black on black crime. Even the police torture cases were mostly black crime cases. This is a winning issue for cop haters. The police are discredited and the destruction of the black family will continue.

    The white progressive population of Chicago will not only have police protection but according to press reports all the new CCW permits are being issued in white zip codes only.

  10. I have absolutely NO sympathy for ghetto-dwellers who refuse to convict those that prey upon their communities.

    Unless someone has lived, worked, or experienced “life” in an “urban” area and it’s courts they have NO idea how bad the system really is. Common are prosecutor’s plea deals with thugs pleading guilty to the “lesser” offense, corrupt defense attorneys who claim ALL police are “racist”, Liberal judges who hand out light jail/prison sentences (if any), witnesses who decline to testify for multiple reasons (including fear/threats and their own criminal culpability), and juries that unabashedly admit they’re “NOT going to put another Black/Brown boy in jail/prison”.

    Screw those that routinely decline to participate in the criminal court system or hold members of their family and community accountable for their actions, they made their beds, let ’em die in it from a stray bullet fired by their violence-prone, gangbanging, drug dealing, gun-toting 14 year old grandson or neighbor .

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *