Is Alvarez too political to consider search warrant application?

Cook County state's attorney Anita Alvarez

Cook County state’s attorney Anita Alvarez

Rob Wildeboer reports on WBEZ that attorneys for victims of police torture under Jon Burge–and other officers who remain unprosecuted–say that Cook County state’s attorney Anita Alvarez is unfit to review these cases. Now a class action petition has been filed seeking new evidentiary hearings in torture cases.

This who’s who, created by John Conroy at the Chicago Reader when I was editor in chief there, outlines who knew what when about the scandal. Implicated officials include former mayor Richard M. Daley, and former state’s attorneys Jack O’Malley and Richard Devine.

Though Alvarez wasn’t elected to the office of state’s attorney till 2008, she held multiple prestigious appointments, including chief of staff, under Devine, while the office was aware of the torture.

The same issues of conflict arise with Alvarez in the case of still-buried victims of John Wayne Gacy and the way the original prosecution was handled by the state’s attorney.

Evidence will show (stay tuned) why local officials would have wanted to resolve the 1978 serial murder case quickly and quietly. It may seem absurd to suggest that there was any chance of maintaining quiet around 33 known murders, but somehow quiet was achieved. The facts are emerging nevertheless.

One of the many interesting things about the case is the possibility that there are victims who haven’t been found yet, whose families and loved ones would no doubt like to know of their whereabouts. Multiple witnesses (video clips in earlier posts here) report activity by Gacy that points strongly to the presence of burials at Miami and Elston, at the building on the northwest side where Gacy was a caretaker.

Alvarez’s champion Devine was the SA in 1998 when a Better Government Association probe led to a brief investigation of the Miami-Elston site. There’s ample reason to believe that dig was dispatched quickly and was never intended to produce results.

Sheriff Tom Dart has finally been persuaded to file an application for a warrant to search that property. And yet it sits unaddressed on Alvarez’s desk. Perhaps Alvarez isn’t the best person to ask for action in the case.

It languishes while the weather gets colder and the ground gets harder.


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