“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.