Northwestern Law's Bluhm Legal Clinic Roderick MacArthur Justice Center won a multi-million dollar jury verdict for a client who served 16 years in prison for a murder that he did not commit.
On January 24, 2012, a federal jury in Chicago awarded Thaddeus (T.J.) Jimenez $25 million in damages for the harm he suffered for his wrongful incarceration from 1993 until his exoneration in 2009. At 13, Jimenez was the youngest person ever arrested, transferred to criminal court, convicted, and then later exonerated.
MacArthur Justice Center director Locke Bowman, along with Northwestern Law alumnus Stuart Chanen JD '85 and Lisa Carter of the Valorem Law Group, and Jon Loevy of Loevy & Loevy, handled this civil case arising from T.J.’s wrongful conviction.
In 1993, T.J. was arrested and sentenced to 45 years in prison for a murder he did not commit. In 2006, students and lawyers from the Center on Wrongful Convictions, including Steve Drizin JD '86, Ali Flaum, and Joshua Tepfer, reinvestigated Jimenez's conviction. Together with Stuart Chanen JD '85, Rachel Vorbeck JD '96, and attorneys from the law firm of Katten Muchin Rosenman, they located the key witness and learned that he had recanted his testimony that T.J. was the gunman. A taped confession by the real murderer was also recovered, which had been made shortly after T.J.’s original conviction. As a result the state's attorney's office agreed to reopen the case and in 2009, after more than 16 years of wrongful imprisonment, T.J. was exonerated and released.
On June 3, 2009, the presiding judge of the Criminal Division of the Cook County Circuit Court granted Jimenez a certificate of innocence.
The Roderick MacArthur Justice Center litigates issues of significance for the criminal justice system, including prisoner rights, the death penalty, and gun control. The Justice Center is funded by the J. Roderick MacArthur Foundation of Niles, Illinois.