Victory for the Center on Wrongful Convictions: Juan Rivera Released From Prison

January 06, 2012

Juan Rivera, a client of the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s Center on Wrongful Convictions, was released from prison today (January 6, 2012) after being wrongfully incarcerated for 19 years.

Rivera's release came shortly after the Lake County State’s Attorney Michael Waller announced today that the state will not appeal last month’s unanimous Illinois Appellate Court opinion reversing the conviction of Center on Wrongful Convictions (CWC) client Juan Rivera.

Originally tried and convicted in 1993 based largely on a false confession, Juan Rivera served nearly two decades of a life sentence for a crime he did not commit. Juan had been convicted three times by Lake County juries of the 1992 murder of 11-year-old Holly Staker in Waukegan. In December, the Second District Illinois Appellate Court reversed the rape and murder conviction in a long-awaited opinion that unequivocally stated that the State’s evidence was insufficient to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt will stand as.  (View announcement from December 2011.) Until today it was uncertain as to whether that decision would be appealed.

The Center on Wrongful Convictions legal team included Jane Raley, Jeffrey Urdangen and Judy Royal JD '81. The Jenner & Block lawyers were led by partners Terri Mascherin JD '84, Thomas Sullivan, and Andrew Vail and associates Sarah Terman JD '08, Dan Fenske JD '08 and Sarah Mirkin JD '07.