Wrongfully Convicted Man Files New Petition for Justice


David Bates was wrongly convicted in 1983 on charges of murder, attempted murder and armed robbery and sentenced to serve 20 years. He was released in December 1995 after being acquitted of all charges at a new trial. The court ruled that a statement made by Bates after he was tortured by Chicago Police detectives under the direction of former Chicago Police Commander John Burge should never have been presented at trial. With the help of Cook County Court Clerk Dorothy Brown, Bates filed a petition for a “Certificate of Innocence,” a new legal process with the Clerk’s Office that allows people to “receive justice more swiftly along with the financial assistance they need to help start their lives anew,” according to a press release from Brown’s office.

Under the new Illinois law passed on Sept. 22, 2008, individuals may file petitions for a Certificate of Innocence, if they had been wrongly convicted, had their convictions overturned and were acquitted before Sept. 22, 2008. To qualify, these individuals must file their petitions by Sept. 22, 2010. A judge decides whether to grant the order, and also decides the amount of money the wrongly accused person can receive. “If an individual was imprisoned for five years or less, not more than $85,350 in compensation; for imprisonment of 14 years or less but over five years, not more than $170,000; for imprisonment of more than 14 years, not more than $199,150. Once the judge grants the certificate, an order is entered for the Clerk of the Circuit Court to send the certificate to the Illinois Court of Claims,” according to the data provided by Brown’s office.

Upon receipt of the judge’s order, the Court of Claims gives a decision on the final amount of financial assistance to be dispensed within 90 days of receiving the case on its docket. “I believe in the importance of the Certificate of Innocence for individuals like Mr. Bates,” stated Brown. “Without this assistance offered through the courts, the only option for wrongfully convicted and imprisoned individuals is to seek a pardon from the governor. Now, this new process provides a chance for more rapid relief for such individuals, enabling them to get back on their feet faster,” she added in the press release.

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