In April’s letters: List lamentation and the great gun debate
To properly discredit Professor David Protess’s students’ work [The Professor and the Prosecutor, by Bryan Smith, February], the Cook County state’s attorney, Anita Alvarez, has to prove that [the students] explicitly entered a quid pro quo relationship with one or more interviewees. Flirting, even if it occurred, does not necessarily rise to the level of quid pro quo. Even if the students’ grades reflect whether they found exculpatory information and these students knew this, their grades contribute absolutely nothing to whether a quid pro quo relationship existed. Additionally, reimbursing witnesses’ travel expenses, taking witnesses out for meals, and paying for witnesses’ time are all acceptable attorneys’ practices. [They alone] do not establish a quid pro quo relationship. I am dismayed, though not surprised, that Alvarez has opted to intimidate, bully, and destroy Protess’s Innocence Project.
Kevin Jay Long
It was with great surprise and shock that I read in The Professor and the Prosecutor that part of the justification for investigating Professor Protess’s students was an unsigned memorandum about the Ford Heights Four cases, accusing Protess’s students of misconduct, allegedly written by members of the Cook County state’s attorney’s office. I was one of the judges in the Ford Heights Four cases. Had the Supreme Court of Illinois not intervened, the innocent would have been executed.
A memorandum of this case should indeed have been written, but about the conduct of the prosecutors rather than Protess’s students. The jury in the case should have been told about the promises made to the only alleged eyewitness in return for her testimony. In addition, I was told that there was no DNA evidence available, when indeed there was.
Had hearings been held, it may have led to systemic changes in the state’s attorney’s office.
What should be done about Professor David Protess, his journalism students, and the investigator who assisted them? I suggest that statues should be built of them all and placed in the lobby of the Criminal Court building at 26th and California. This would serve as a reminder that justice is sometimes achieved by those with no license to practice law in Illinois.
Sheila M. Murphy
Retired Presiding Judge of the Sixth District
I suppose your research indicated that readers like lists, but I expect better from your magazine. You should leave bar rating [100 Bars We Love, edited by Shane Tritsch and Jennifer Wehunt, February] to raunchy publications, because the bars on your list are questionable—I’ve never scored in any of them.
Hosea L. Martin
I suppose that Jeff Ruby [“Tough Love,” Outer Drive, February] is entitled to his opinion regarding Geja’s Café (a “fusty pre-prom fondue lair”), but I beg to differ. That’s where I proposed to my wife. We’ll be celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary in March.
Maybe we’ll book a table there and celebrate by ordering several vats of bubbling liquids?
Paul J. Jarosz
In her report “In Their Sights” [Reporter, January], Jennifer Tanaka missed visiting the central site of the action and thus the most compelling argument against the repeal of the Chicago gun ordinance. She should have gone to any busy local emergency department, especially on a weekend, and interviewed victims of gun violence and their relatives. There she could have spoken, as I have, with the distraught mother of a 14-year-old who will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair due to a gunshot-induced spinal cord injury. His crime? Being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Although the NRA bullies disagree, constitutional law considerations are strictly secondary to this major, correctable public health issue that adversely affects thousands of Chicago residents each year.
James Webster, MD
After we posted Jennifer Tanaka’s profile of the plaintiffs behind a new push to overturn Chicago’s handgun ban on Chicagomag.com, readers’ comments proved how polarizing this topic remains. A selection:
>> “The bulk of Americans aren’t responsible enough or emotionally mature enough to operate a car, much less a gun. Access to arms has to be limited, as everyone agrees—which is why chemical weapons and nuclear weapons are not available for everyone.”
>> “Nothing is perfect, including the ridiculous Chicago handgun ban that does not let honest people, never convicted of a felony, defend themselves in their own homes. It assures that only criminals and Chicago cronies have access to firearms.”
>> “[The U.S. Supreme Court decision in U.S. vs. Miller, 1939] found that the only types of ‘arms’ protected by the [Second Amendment] were those that were suitable for use by a militia. That does not mean that it is not an individual right.”
>> “Forty-eight states allow concealed carry after the applicant is screened and tested, and [these states] are not having shootouts in the streets. Armed, the victim can be the first responder instead of merely being the subject of a police report.”