Juan Rivera

Federal Judge Rules Wrongful Conviction Case Against Authorities Can Proceed

A recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Harry D. Leinenweber will allow Juan Rivera, Jr., to move forward with a lawsuit seeking to hold Lake County prosecutors and law enforcement officers liable for damages Rivera suffered as the result of a 20-year wrongful imprisonment.

At the time of his arrest in 1992, Rivera was a teenager with limited ability to speak English. His confession to the rape and murder of an 11-year-old girl followed four days of intense interrogation, which exceeded all reasonable limits for police questioning and led to a psychotic break, according to his lawsuit.

DNA evidence later exonerated Rivera, and he was released from prison in 2012.

Lawyers for the Lake County officials sought to dismiss the lawsuit, but Leinenweber's 36-page opinion and order allowed nearly all of the counts in question to go forward.

Wrongful convictions: Exonerated inmate wins early round in suit against Lake County officials, Chicago Tribune, Oct. 14, 2013

Updated - 10/18/2013


Man Framed for Rape, Murder of 11-Year-Old Girl Sues Lake County

A Lake County man wrongfully imprisoned for 20 years—half his life—following the 1992 rape and murder of an 11-year-old, filed suit against current and former officers from Waukegan, Lake Forest, Buffalo Grove, and the Lake County Sheriff's Department for allegedly framing him for the crimes until DNA evidence exonerated him.

According to the Complaint, on the third straight day of abusive police interrogation, then-19-year-old Juan Rivera, Jr. suffered a mental breakdown, was diagnosed with "acute psychosis" by medical officials at the jail, and left hog-tied in a padded cell. On the fourth day, following over 24 hours of non-stop interrogation, Rivera signed a written confession to the crimes in English, even though he had great difficulty understanding spoken English, and almost no ability to read and write in the language.

Rivera's suit, filed by Locke Bowman of the MacArthur Justice Center and Jon Loevy of Loevy and Lovey Attorneys at Law, contends that the interrogation exceeded all reasonable limits for police questioning and was completely out of bounds.

On January 6, 2012, after a long legal battle led by Northwestern University School of Law's Center on Wrongful Convictions, Juan Rivera, Jr. walked out of prison a free man, having served half of his life in prison for a crime he did not commit.

Read the complete press release (pdf)

Exonerated Man Says Cops, Prosecutors Framed Him in Girl's Slaying, Chicago Tribune

Juan Rivera Suing Lake County Officials Over Three Convictions, WBEZ (audio)

Updated - 10/30/2012