On March 18, the Illinois Supreme Court issued a much awaited opinion finding that private investigator Paul Ciolino’s defamation lawsuit against Chicago attorney Terry Ekl among others was not filed too late. In their briefs before the Court, the parties framed the question in terms of whether or not the discovery rule delayed the beginning of the one-year statute of limitations. The Court held that Ciolino’s action was timely but based its decision not on the arguments proffered by the parties either side or on the reasoning of the appellate court.
The case centers on a book titled Justice Perverted: How the Innocence Project of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism Sent an Innocent Man to Prison and a later documentary titled “Murder in the Park.” The subject of both the book and the documentary was the effort to convict Alstory Simon of a 1983 double homicide on Chicago’s southeast side, one of the most famous murder cases in Illinois’ recent history. Ekl, an attorney who represented Simon in his post-conviction proceedings, is among those whose comments are featured in the documentary.
The book and documentary posit the theory that Ciolino and others framed Simon in order to secure the exoneration of Anthony Porter, who was originally targeted for the murders, and to ultimately bring about an end to the death penalty in Illinois. They claimed that Ciolino and a Northwestern journalism professor coerced Simon into confessing to the crimes for which Porter had been earlier convicted. Simon’s conviction was later overturned and he was ultimately cleared of the murders in 2013, after Ciolino was accused of impropriety in obtaining the confession. Continue reading ›