Waiting for Justice

Pending Cases

Please see the list below for publicly available information about some of our pending cases and for information about some of our clients who are still seeking relief through the criminal justice system.

Eric Blackmon

Eric Blackmon was convicted of fatally shooting a man on a Chicago sidewalk on July 4, 2002 - despite the accounts of numerous witnesses that he was at a Fourth of July barbecue at the time of the shooting. On February 7, 2018, the Honorable Ronald A. Guzman of the Northern District of Illinois granted Eric a writ of habeas corpus after finding that his trial counsel was ineffective in failing to call at least nine available alibi witnesses. Read the opinion here. Eric's case is now pending again in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Kevin Dugar

Kevin Dugar is in prison for a Chicago murder and attempted murder that occurred in 2003. On September 22, 2016, his identical twin brother Karl Dugar a/k/a Karl Smith testified in court that he (Karl) was the one who actually committed the crimes. Kevin Dugar is awaiting the conclusion of the post-conviction hearing and the judge's ruling as to whether he is entitled to a new trial based on his twin brother's confession. Chicago Tribune story.

Antonio Nicholas

Antonio Nicholas has claimed for decades that Chicago Police detectives under the command of disgraced former Commander Jon Burge beat him into confessing to a 1991 murder. After a circuit court judge dismissed Nicholas's pro se post-conviction petition seeking relief on this claim, the Appellate Court remanded the petition for further proceedings and the Center on Wrongful Convictions entered the case. After the same circuit court judge dismissed the amended petition filed by the CWC, Nicholas appealed again. On November 20, 2017, the Appellate Court once more reversed the dismissal and this time ordered that an evidentiary hearing take place before a different judge.

Patrick Pursley

Patrick Pursley has always maintained that he is innocent of the 1993 murder of Andrew Ascher in Rockford, Illinois, and that he was convicted on the basis of flawed ballistics testimony. At Pursley’s trial, the State’s firearm and tool mark expert testified that markings on the bullets and cartridges recovered from the crime scene had “fingerprint”-like accuracy and concluded that the bullets and cartridges recovered from the crime scene were fired from a gun linked to Pursley “to the exclusion of all other firearms.” This testimony would likely not be allowed in court today. Since Pursley’s trial, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and federal courts have recognized that “[t]he science regarding firearms examinations does not permit examiner testimony that a specific gun fired a specific bullet to exclusion of all other guns in the world.” Other developments since Pursley’s trial have further eroded the foundation of the expert’s ballistic testimony. A new database of digital images of ballistics evidence now allows the State to compare images of test-fired bullets and cartridges from recovered weapons with images of bullets and cartridges from crime scenes to see if there is a “match.” This database is called the National Integrated Ballistics Identification Network (“NIBIN”). Pursley, from his prison cell, worked with advocates on the outside to pass a law enabling convicted defendants to search NIBIN. After his request for post-conviction NIBIN searching was denied, Jenner & Block and the CWC appealed and won Pursley the right to place new digital images of test firings from the gun and cartridges linked to Pursley into NIBIN. See People v. Patrick Pursley. When digital images of the test firings were loaded into the database, there was no match to the digital images of the recovered ballistics. In addition, two new expert reports analyzing the ballistics evidence – one from the State and one from the defense – now agree that the State’s original trial expert overreached in his testimony. The State’s expert, from the same Illinois Police Crime Lab as the original expert, now finds that ballistics evidence “cannot be identified or eliminated as having been fired from the gun belonging to Mr. Pursley.” The defense expert’s findings were even more devastating. John Murdock, one of the most highly regarded firearms experts in the country, found that neither the cartridges nor the bullets recovered from the crime came from the gun linked to Pursley. Armed with this new evidence, Pursley filed a petition seeking a new trial based on actual innocence. On March 3, 2017, after an evidentiary hearing, Winnebago County Circuit Court Chief Judge McGraw granted Pursley a new trial. See media coverage here. Pursley remains free on bond pending the State's appeal of the new trial order.

Marquis Thomas

Marquis Thomas was convicted of a 2007 shooting murder in Rockford, Illinois, based on eyewitness testimony. His jury never heard that another person confessed to the crime, because the trial court excluded this evidence. Thomas has always maintained his innocence, and after his conviction was affirmed on appeal he filed a pro se post-conviction petition. Thanks to excellent representation by the Office of the State Appellate Defender, the summary dismissal of Thomas's petition was reversed and remanded. Attorneys from the CWC and Schiff Hardin LLP now represent Thomas in Winnebago County post-conviction proceedings.

Waiting for Pardons from the Governor

The following Center on Wrongful Convictions clients have pending petitions for executive clemency. Contact information for the Governor is here.

Randy Steidl

Pardon Randy Steidl