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Illinois Wrongful Conviction/Prosecution Defense Lawyers

The Sotos Law Firm has successfully defended dozens of police misconduct, wrongful prosecution and wrongful conviction cases. DNA testing has inspired a vast increase in the overturning of criminal convictions and innocence certificates and pardons are making the news. This is changing the public's perceptions and expectations and law enforcement officials are under increasing scrutiny for past investigations and convictions.

Criminal defendants who have been acquitted or had convictions reversed commonly sue the police for coercing confessions or witness statements, and/or withholding exculpatory evidence from prosecutors. These accusations are generally untrue; however, every claim must be treated seriously to effectively exonerate law enforcement. These cases can be challenging since the underlying police investigations and convictions took place many years ago and witnesses disappear or change their stories. This is where our vast investigative and trial experience can be best utilized in examining files, reexamining witnesses, uncovering new witnesses and evidence, and developing a winning defense strategy.

For instance, we recently prevailed in the high profile wrongful prosecution case brought by Gary Gauger against McHenry County, Illinois, and three of its veteran sheriff's detectives. Gauger alleged he was coerced into falsely confessing to brutally murdering his parents during an 18-hour interrogation. Gauger's criminal conviction was thrown out and he was released after two members of the notorious "Outlaw" motorcycle gang told a wired confidential government informant that they had committed the murders. Upon his release, Gauger filed suit and became an outspoken advocate for the "wrongfully convicted." His story was widely chronicled in a novel and in the local and national media, including on TV shows such as "Oprah" and "20/20," and in the Broadway play "The Exonerated." The jury at Gauger's civil trial found in favor of the police, and agreed with our theory that the police acted appropriately throughout Gauger's lengthy interrogation that they had "probable cause" for charging him and they did not act with any malice.

Defending the police in wrongful prosecution/conviction cases requires a deep understanding of the governing law, as well as the experience and expertise to conduct thorough investigations into often complicated facts. Such defenses require expertise in employing forensic experts, whose services can be critical in interpreting physical evidence. Further, the high profile nature these cases sometimes assume requires attorneys experienced in dealing with significant media attention, and developing and forcefully delivering the government's message.

Our attorneys have been defending wrongful prosecution/conviction cases for over a quarter century, and have a virtually unparalleled record of success on such cases in the state and federal trial and appellate courts, all the way to the United States Supreme Court. We pride ourselves in achieving successful pre-trial and trial outcomes in even the most difficult cases, and in achieving vindication for public officials who are wrongfully accused of misconduct in such cases.

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We understand how important your reputation and career are to you. It may seem devastating to be accused of not doing your job properly on a case or investigation. Slow down, take a deep breath and contact us; our lawyers can help untangle the facts of the case and determine the best strategy for responding to a complaint.

Office Location

The Sotos Law Firm, P.C.
Phone: 630-735-3300
Fax: 630-773-0980

Itasca Office:
550 E. Devon Avenue
Suite 150
Itasca, IL 60143
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Chicago Office: (by appt only)
20 N. Clark Street
#800
Chicago, IL 60602
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What does it mean to have The Sotos Law Firm represent your case? View our past case results page to learn more.

OUR CASE RESULTS

CHRISTINA S. WHITE (CHRISTINA Gunn)

Christina is a 2004 graduate of Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana, where she attained the distinguished position as Articles Editor for the Journal of American Arbitration. Upon graduation, Christina clerked for the Honorable Marc T. Amy in the Louisiana Court of Appeal, Third Circuit before becoming a staff attorney in the Criminal Division of the Louisiana Court of Appeal, Third Circuit. Christina graduated summa cum laude from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois in 2001 with a bachelor's degree in Public Relations and Spanish.

JAMES SOTOS

The firm is led by James Sotos, who possesses over twenty-five years of experience representing public and private sector clients in federal and state litigation at the trial and appellate levels. During that time, Jim has distinguished himself as one of a handful of attorneys who has argued two cases in the United States Supreme Court, and he has achieved an enviable rate of success in the arena of Illinois governmental litigation. Jim enjoys Lexis-Nexis, Martindale-Hubbell's preeminent AV peer review rating and has been recognized both as an "Illinois Super Lawyer" by "Law and Politics" and the publishers of Chicago Magazine and as an Illinois Leading Lawyer by the Law Bulletin Publishing Company. Jim also lectures and publishes frequently on government liability and ethics and writes the weekly column "In Federal Courts" for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

ELIZABETH A. EKL

Elizabeth began her career in law enforcement as an assistant state's attorney at the DuPage County State's Attorney's Office. Elizabeth tried approximately a hundred cases to verdict during the seven years she was employed by the state's attorney's office before joining Jim Sotos in his practice in 2003. Elizabeth has been recognized for her trial work by the Association of Governmental Attorneys in Capital Litigation who awarded her the Regional Vice President's Trial Advocacy Award and also by the Addison Merit Review Board who awarded her a Distinguished Team Award. Elizabeth is a 1997 graduate of DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, Illinois. She also studied in a summer law program through Florida State University at Oxford University in Oxford, England. Elizabeth graduated from Indiana University in 1993 where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Finance.

Jeffrey N. Given

Jeff began his legal career at Kirkland & Ellis in Chicago where he engaged in commercial and constitutional litigation. Jeff left Kirkland to establish a successful entrepreneurial business before returning to the practice of law at the City of Chicago Law Department. Jeff served seven of his ten years at the Law Department as the Chief Assistant responsible for managing all aspects of the City's representation in litigation alleging misconduct by the Chicago Police Department. Jeff graduated cum laude from Indiana University Law School in Bloomington, Indiana in 1983. During law school, Jeff was selected for law review and was awarded the ABA Annual Award for best performances in Land Use and Local Government law courses. Jeff graduated cum laude with distinction in major from Carleton College in 1978 where he earned a bachelor's degree in American Studies.

Caroline P. Golden

Before joining The Sotos Law Firm, Carrie was a partner at Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg where she worked in the commercial litigation department for seven years. She also brings with her valuable experience from internships at the United States Attorney's Office, Northern District of Illinois and for the Honorable Ann C. Williams, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois. Carrie graduated from DePaul College of Law in Chicago, Illinois in 1992. While in law school, Carrie earned the prestigious position of DePaul Law Review Editor. Carrie's academic excellence in law school earned her membership in the Order of the Coif. She also received American Jurisprudence awards in Procedure and Evidence. Carrie graduated with honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois in 1988 with a bachelor's degree in Finance.

JOHN J. TIMBO

John has been representing the interests of law enforcement since 1994, when he started as a law clerk with the Office of the Legal Advisor for the Boston Police Department. John is a 1996 graduate of Suffolk University School of Law in Boston, Massachusetts, after having been accepted as a third year visiting student by Chicago-Kent College of Law. After graduation, John worked with Russell Hartigan & Associates in Chicago where he engaged in municipal, civil rights, and insurance defense, having successfully tried several cases to verdict. After working with two other attorneys from Hartigan & Associates for a short time in a start up firm, John joined Jim Sotos in 2000. John has been a regular presenter on liability risk issues for the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police since 2009, and recently lectured on the topic of recent trends in qualified immunity at the Illinois Midwest Police and Security Expo held in Peoria, Illinois in August, 2011. John is also a 1993 graduate of DePaul University College of Commerce, where he earned a bachelor's degree in Economics.