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.
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.