Court Orders Hearing, Inmate Hasn’t Had It 16 Years Later

Illinois inmate Roosevelt Myles won an appeals court ruling in 2000 that he get a hearing on his charge that he had bad legal representation at his trial. The promised hearing has been delayed 70 times and still hasn’t been held.

Roosevelt Myles was eight years into a 60-year murder sentence in Illinois when a state appeals court granting him a chance to argue that his public defender had provided “ineffective counsel” at his trial. That lawyer hadn’t called the three witnesses who could have confirmed Myles’ alibi. Myles said he had been framed by corrupt police officers. Sixteen years later, Myles still hasn’t had his day in court., BuzzFeed News reports.  He remains in prison year after year, enduring a delay that legal experts have called unprecedented and unconscionable. And in the time that has passed, a key witness to his alibi died, making it much harder for Myles to prove his innocence should he ever get the chance.

The case of Roosevelt Myles is a striking example of how broken the justice system is in Chicago. He was tried without adequate legal support and convicted without solid evidence, and has rotted in prison despite an order that he be allowed to seek justice in court. BuzzFeed News has reported that at least 51 people have accused Chicago detective Reynaldo Guevara of framing them for murders they did not commit. Myles alleges that officers from the same unit as Guevara framed him for murder. The appeals court order that Myles get a new hearing has sat on the desk of Dennis Porter, the Cook County judge who presided over the original trial. The hearing has undergone more than 70 delays, most of them requested by Myles’ public defenders, the people who were supposed to be advocating on his behalf. For a decade and a half, they haplessly passed the case from one lawyer to the next, taking months or even years to familiarize themselves with it.