Tuesday, 15 April 2014
The Innocence Tour begins 1st May 2015
The innocence bus tour was a vision of Johnnie Lee Savory as part of his, and many others, commitment and efforts to end the plague of wrongful convictions. Wrongful convictions have been experienced by many of our nation’s people without regard to race, age, or gender and is a result of a number of factors including false accusations, false confessions, eyewitness misidentification, ineffective assistance of counsel, and the most common cause, revealed in a recent study by the Better Government Association and the Center on Wrongful Convictions, alleged government error and misconduct by police, prosecutors, and forensic officials.
Innocent people the world over are being falsely accused, unjustly convicted, and sentenced to nightmarish imprisonment for crimes they did not commit. The cries of the innocent echo in the wind; no longer can we as a people turn a deaf ear we must not deny love, truth, or justice to one another. As the innocence bus tour journeys across America and to Canada let these two blessed and great nations serve as righteous examples to humanity
The innocent bus tour will highlight and profile cases of wrongful convictions while advocating for the innocent in the following ways: Recognizing the vital relationship between social support and reintegration, we will serve as a vehicle to connect the innocent with community resources; insisting that DNA testing is made available to persons who claim innocence, particularly, those facing lengthy sentences; demanding the innocent be set free, fully restored to his or her rightful citizenship, and given Immediate compensation for the wrongs that were committed against him or her. Additionally, we seek to end prosecutorial misconduct immunity and hold accountable our elected appointed officials who have sworn before God and man to protect the administration of justice by adhering to the spiritual word in which he or she places his or her hand, obeying the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Truth must go forward unhindered, human rights must be protected, and the captive must be set free.
The vision of the innocence bus tour is reunited communities and a healed nation where justice truly prevails and innocence is coveted.
Tuesday, 19 November 2013
To learn more about out Special Guest, Diane Dimond, you can visit her website at www.DianeDimond.net and to learn more about Johnnie Savory, please visit his website at www.thesavoryfiles.org!
Feel free to join us tonight and call in with any questions, that you might have for AJCRadio Hosts and Special Guests!
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Monday, 11 November 2013
Tuesday, 15 October 2013
Johnnie Lee Savory (Photo: Center on Wrongful Convictions)
Savory has sought DNA testing since 1998, but Peoria County prosecutors opposed it and the courts denied it on the ground that the requested testing could not yield a result relevant to his claim of actual innocence. Now, however, the technology has advanced to a point where it could be used on previously untestable evidence that has the potential to yield, to quote the CWC motion, "practically irrefutable evidence of Savory's innocence."
Savory was twice convicted of the murders of siblings James Robinson Jr., 14, and Connie Cooper, 19, who were found stabbed to death in their Peoria home on January 18, 1977. The first conviction rested almost entirely on an alleged confession that the Illinois Appellate Court threw out in 1980 on the ground that the confession had been involuntary.
In the face of the Appellate Court's holding, then-Peoria County State's Attorney John Barra was quoted by the Peoria Journal Star as saying that without the confession "there is no substantial evidence to tie Savory to the crime or the scene of the crime [and] I don't know how it would be possible to try him without it."
Barra soon changed his mind, however, deciding to try the case again based on statements attributed to Savory by three of his acquaintances—siblings Ella, Frankie, and Tina Ivy. The Ivys claimed that Savory had made statements to them indicating that he had committed the murders. The retrial was moved to Lake County, where Savory was convicted in 1981. Since then, the Ivy siblings have on various occasions recanted their testimony. Moreover, at a hearing following the second trial, one of the original prosecutors—Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Gibson—testified that prosecutors had chosen not to present the Ivys' testimony in 1977 because it was "too shaky."
The only evidence other than the illegally obtained confession and the Ivys' testimony was inconclusive. It included the alleged murder weapon—a knife found in Savory's possession bearing then-untestable trace amounts of blood; a pair of bloodstained pants several sizes too large for Savory seized from his home; and several hairs found at the murder scene said to microscopically resemble Savory's hair.
In 1998, shortly after the Illinois General Assembly enacted a law giving convicted defendants the right to test physical evidence relevant to claims of actual innocence, Savory's then-lawyers filed a motion for DNA testing of the bloodstained pants. The blood was of a type shared by Savory, the victims, and, importantly, Savory's father, Y.T. Savory, who had suffered an injury consistent with the positioning of the blood and who had testified he used the knife to undo the stitches.
The then-attorneys attempted to supplement the motion with a request to test fingernail scrapings from Connie Cooper. The scrapings previously had been thought to be of no evidentiary value. That request was rejected by the Peoria County Circuit Court, and the testing of the pants ultimately was denied by the Illinois Supreme Court, which held that the bloodstain was only "a minor part of the State's evidence."
Since then, however, advances in DNA technology have made testing of the knife, the hairs, and the fingernail scrapings possible, according to the CWC motion, which contends that, if the testing of those items revealed a common DNA profile that was not Savory's, the "redundant hits" would be "practically irrefutable evidence of Savory's innocence and of another man's guilt."
Two friend-of-the-court briefs were filed in support of the CWC motion—one prepared by lawyers from the law firm of Sidley Austin on behalf of leading Illinois lawyers—including former Governor James R. Thompson, former U.S. Senator Adlai E. Stevenson III, and former U.S. Attorneys Thomas P. Sullivan and Dan K. Webb—and one prepared by lawyers from the law firm of Baker & McKenzie on behalf of men who have been exonerated by DNA testing in Illinois.
Center on Wrongful Convictions DNA Motion (pdf)
Sidley Austin Lawyer Amicus Brief (pdf)
Baker & McKenzie Exonerees Amicus Brief (pdf)
Media Coverage: pjstar | CINewsNow | WCBU | THE EYE
Monday, 23 September 2013
Johnny Savory has been in prison for more than two-thirds of his life, before he was released on parole in 2006. Since 1998 he is fighting for DNA testing to prove his innocence, though he has completed his murder sentence. The order to test the evidence for DNA was given now, in August 2013. He is still waiting for the result.
Thursday, 5 September 2013
Picture from Johnnie Savory
Illinois police will have to record more interrogations of criminal suspects under legislation Gov. Pat Quinn signed Monday that aims to prevent false confessions and wrongful convictions.
The law expands on legislation passed in 2003 mandating the recording of homicide interrogations. The new requirements will take effect in phases over the next three years, and by June 2016, police will have to record interrogations of people suspected in any of eight violent felonies, including aggravated criminal sexual assault, aggravated battery with a gun and armed robbery.
Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, had originally proposed earlier this year that police record interrogations in all felonies, a measure some law enforcement authorities, including the Cook County state's attorney's office, opposed.
Advocates of recording and prosecutors praised the narrower measure's passage, saying it would shield police from bogus allegations of coercion while protecting suspects from overly aggressive interrogation methods that have produced false confessions.
"I think (the law) will go a long way toward preventing wrongful convictions," said Thomas Sullivan, a Chicago attorney and recording proponent who helped draft the legislation.
Under the new law, courts will presume inadmissible any statement a suspect in one of the specified felonies makes unless the interrogation is either audio- or video-recorded. The first incremental expansion of felonies that must be recorded will happen next June.
Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, led the effort in the Senate to expand recording. He could not be reached for comment.
Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez voiced concern about the financial and logistical implications of the law for large agencies such as the Chicago Police Department. But she said she supported the measure, calling a recorded interrogation "an awesome piece of evidence."
Chicago police spokesman Adam Collins said Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Superintendent Garry McCarthy support expanding recording. But Collins expressed uncertainty about the resources needed to implement a law that comes with no funding attached.
"(Chicago police officials) would hope that the supporters of this important legislation will work with us to secure any needed resources to ensure the expansion is a success," he wrote in an email.
A decade ago, Illinois was the first state to pass a law requiring recorded homicide interrogations, a fix enacted as the state dealt with faulty death penalty cases. Other states soon enacted more sweeping rules, and Illinois' new law will make it the 17th state that — along with the District of Columbia — requires the recording of interrogations for crimes other than homicide, Sullivan said.
Illinois has carved out an unwanted reputation as a leader in wrongful convictions, with the bulk coming from Cook County and surrounding areas. Drury, a former federal prosecutor, represents part of Lake County, where four defendants have been exonerated by DNA since 2010. Three of those suspects confessed after long, aggressive interrogations that were not recorded.
Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim, who took over the office after those cases fell apart, said he supports the new law, though he said he would support an even broader bill that would call for the recording of all interrogations.
"I hope that's where we're headed. I think (that's) where we should go," he said.
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Picture from Johnnie Savory