Advanced Criminal Law: Convicting the Innocent
Professor James R. Elkins College of Law
West Virginia University|Fall|2016|



Rolando Cruz

Class Video

"Presumed Guilty"
[50:00 mins.] American Justice, A&E Home Video, hosted by Bill Kurtis)]

Case update: Thomas Knight was the assistant State's Attorney who prosecuted Rolando Cruz for the murder of Jeanine Nicario. Knight, with two other DuPage County prosecutors, and four sheriff's deputies were charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and conspiracy to commit official misconduct, in 1999. Los Angeles Times, April 7, 1999. Knight, fellow prosecutors, and police were acquitted of the criminal charges. World Socialist Web Site, June 16, 1999. Knight, charged with obstruction of justice in the Rolando Cruz case, won an acquittal and sued Maurice Possley and his employer, the Chicago Tribune, accusing them of defamation. Knight did not prevail in his defamation action. See, Knight v. Chicago Tribune Co. (Appellate Court of Illinois, 2008).

Assigned Reading

Murder Case Became a Test of Conscience Inside the System
Los Angeles Times, November 1, 1992

Prosecution on Trial in DuPage
Chicago Tribune, Maurice Possley & Ken Armstrong, January 12, 1999

The Verdict: Dishonor
Chicago Tribune, Ken Armstrong & Maurice Possley, January 10, 1999

The Snitch System
Northwestern University School of Law, Bluhm Legal Clinic, Center on Wrongful Convictions, 2004-2005

Supplemental ReadingThomas Frisbie & Randy Garrett, Victims of Justice Revisited (Northwestern University Press, rev. ed., 2005)

Reference (Videos)

Nicarico Murder Case
[9:21 mins.] Pt.2 :: 9:38 mins.] Pt3 [8:24 mins.] Pt4 [8:29 mins.] Pt5 [6:46 mins.]

Witness to Innocence: Rolando Cruz
[1:46 mins.]

Rolando Cruz on Working at Costco
[5:09 mins.]

Freeing the Wrongfully Convicted, Problems With US Criminal Justice System
[43:30 mins.] [interview of Bill Clutter, private investigator and principal founder of the  Downstate Illinois Innocence Project at the University of Illinois-Springfield]

Web Resources

Rolando Cruz Case

Jeanine Nicario Murder Case

Backgrounder: The Jeanine Nicarico Case

Chicago Tribune, November 29, 2005

Rolando Cruz

Northwestern Law, Center on Wrongful Convictions

Rolando Cruz and Prosecutorial Misconduct
Democracy Now, April 7, 1999

7 on Trial for Framing Innocent Man for Rape, Murder

Los Angeles Times, April 7, 1999

Prosecution Finds Itself in Murder-Rape Case

Los Angeles Times, January 28, 1997

Illinois prosecutors and police acquitted despite evidence they framed defendant

World Socialist Web Site, June 16, 1999

Chicago Tribune
coverage of the Nicarico case

Rolando Cruz seeks pardon
In December 2002, Cruz received a pardon based on innocence
from Illinois Governor George H. Ryan.