Chicago Police Officers Contribute Financially to Wrongful Conviction Settlement


Harold Hill spent 12 years in prison for a Chicago-area rape and murder that he did not commit. He was exonerated in 2005, and in late 2011, the city of Chicago agreed to compensate Hill a total of $1.25 million. What was not made public at the time, however, was that Hill and his attorneys insisted that the two detectives pay out of their own pockets. Against the total settlement, the amount is not huge—$7,500 each—but it still represents a rare effort to balance the scales. The Chicago Tribune quotes Russell Ainsworth, Hill’s lawyer:

“’It’s what we believe in. It’s an attempt at restorative justice,” said Ainsworth, who called such settlements extremely rare at the firm. “It really has an intrinsic value that goes above and beyond the dollar amount, having a police officer writing a check out of his own account. There’s a feeling of justice there for the client, and that’s important. It’s also an extra psychological piece to help make the client satisfied.’”

Neither of the detectives have admitted to wrongdoing in the case. Law enforcement officers have qualified immunity, and are very rarely personally liable.


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