Open Letter to Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow

Requirements for an Elected State’s Attorney

One of the most important requirements of a prosecutor is to serve as a check on pernicious practices in use by police officers in the interrogation room.  Mr. Glasgow, you laid bare your complete ignorance into the circumstances and interrogation practices that lead to false confessions in your press conference (see below to view the entire press conference) on May 27th regarding the filing of charges in the sexual assault and murder of Riley Fox.  Given your demonstrated level of ignorance about one of your most important job responsibilities it is clear that you can no longer, if you ever could, fulfill the requirements of the position.  For the safety of all Will County citizens, and the citizens of Illinois, you should relinquish your position as Will County State’s Attorney forthwith.

Whenever a policing agency extracts a false confession to a violent crime the entire community is put at risk.  In the Riley Fox case, Will County Sheriff’s Police used unconstitutional practices to coerce a false confession from an innocent man, Riley’s father Kevin Fox.  As a result of this false confession a true predator, Scott Eby, remained loose on the streets of Will County to continue his heinous activities putting the youth of Will County and Illinois at risk of falling prey to this sociopath.  It is obvious that clearing the case of Riley Fox was more important to law enforcement then was protecting the youth of your county and our state.

Melissa Fox Talks

Melissa Fox talking to the Chicago Tribune about the real wold effects of the coerced confession from her husband about the rape and murder of their 3 year old daughter Riley Fox.  Simply put, false confessions also hurt the victims.

Prior blogs on the Riley Fox Case:

As the elected Will County State’s Attorney you are supposed to demonstrate an understanding of the consequences of abusive and unconstitutional police interrogation practices.  Instead you ignorantly suggest that the sole responsibility for the coerced confession lay at the feet of Kevin Fox, clearly ignoring or disregarding the role of the Will County Sheriff’s in using coercive interrogation tactics to extract a false confession from a father grieving for his raped and murdered 3 year old daughter.  Of course your response could also be part of a cynical attempt to avoid blame and put the blame elsewhere, right?  Either way your ignorance and disregard for the role of the police in coercing a confession from Kevin Fox is as disgraceful as the actions of the officers in the interrogation room.  Your refusal to look internally at the Will County criminal justice system’s role in manufacturing a case and coercing a confessions from Kevin Fox can only lead the citizens of Will County to believe that the pernicious practices used against Kevin Fox are still standard operating procedure in Will County.  This fact should scare all the citizens of Will County and Illinois.

(The answer quoted below starts approximately 9:40)

Your state of ignorance is completely incongruent with the realities of what has occurred since the release of Kevin Fox.  Circumstances that anyone would believe would guarantee that you would be up to date on every aspect of this case, including the ongoing investigation that resulted in Scott Eby’s arrest.

  • The Fox’s sued various Will County sheriffs and Will County itself in Federal Court and won a $15,000,000 judgment that was knocked down by the trial judge to $12,000,000.
  • The defendants appealed and upon a scolding 53 page rebuke by the United States Court of Appeals of the Seventh Circuit the judgment was once again reduced to $8,000,000.

Despite this multi-million dollar judgment against Will County and scolding from a federal appellate court you conjured up the following intolerable reply when asked about Kevin Fox’s false confession:

“Again I cannot comment on uh overbearing anyone’s will what I am hoping to do is we will get Kevin to cooperate with law enforcement and sit down so we can study what it was about his personality that allowed him to make the statements that he made.  Because you have never been privy to them ok & maybe at some point that tape will be released.  Uh they were significant let me just tell you that – most prosecutors would have been hard pressed not to file charges after looking at the video of Kevin Fox’s statement.  But now in light of everything we know he was making admissions that were not true – so we have to find out why that happened because…I am 60 years old and I grew up in a generation were people in my generation would not make those statements but now we have generation X and generation Y & they’re a whole different mindset & so we have to try to understand with the new generations what triggers admissions in their minds…….what I am trying to get at is I don’t know how may times I have heard nobody would say that if they didn’t do that well obviously that is not the case & we need to make sure in law enforcement that this, this is part of a case study where everyone across the county learns from this”

Mr. Glasgow you seem completely devoid of the history of the last 15 years in America that has seen a litany of DNA exonerations of individuals who falsely confessed to crimes they never committed.  You suggest that Kevin Fox should cooperate will law enforcement so you can study what about his personality made him falsely confess.  You also suggest that a case study should be made of this case that law enforcement around the country could learn from.  Sorry sir, but there are now far too many of these types of cases; clearly you failed to learn from a single one, sad.  I do not think it is too much to ask that the citizens of Will County have an elected State’s Attorney that has a clue about a phenomenon that has happened repeatedly throughout the country:  individuals who were coerced into a false confession before being exonerated later by DNA evidence.   We are not asking you to be up on the state of the art related to your role as a prosecutor, although we should also expect that, but just up on something that is very common in Illinois and the rest of the country.  We have a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois, maybe you might want to look at what caused that, it might inform your work, or it might have informed your work.  Here is a short list of case studies you never learned from:

As for your ignorance on what causes false confessions I thought I would list a few from the social science literature and provide you contact information for a few experts in the field.  Obviously you are in need of their counsel. 

Some Causes of False Confessions:

  • Real or perceived intimidation of the suspect by law enforcement
  • Use of force by law enforcement during the interrogation, or perceived threat of force
  • Compromised reasoning ability of the suspect, due to exhaustion, stress, hunger,
  • substance use, and, in some cases, mental limitations, or limited education
  • Devious interrogation techniques, such as untrue statements about the presence of incriminating evidence
  • Fear, on the part of the suspect, that failure to confess will yield a harsher punishment

*  Source:  Innocence Project

Experts in the field:

Victimization that need not have occurred?

Scott Eby is currently serving a 14-year sentence in the Illinois Department of Corrections for a sexual assault of a relative.  Sadly, this crime was preventable because it occurred sometime after the sexual assault and murder of Riley Fox.  If police officers had not coerced a false confession from Riley’s father and followed leads in the case, it is possible that Eby would have been indentified years early and quiet possibly before his next victim fell prey to his deranged activities.  There is little doubt that corrupt police practices, especially in the interrogation room, played a role in Eby’s ability to victimize his female relative.

Conclusion

I would suggest you apologize to the relative that Eby sexually assaulted after murdering Riley, but the list of people you should apologize to is simply far too long for you ever to complete it.  Instead I think it would just be better for all involved if you step down immediately. Simply put, your ignorance of your responsibilities as Will County State’s Attorney can no longer be tolerated. The citizens of Will County deserve better than you can possibly provide.

See below for a set of resources as you prepare your resignation.

Understanding False Confessions

Master List of False Confessions

Northwestern False Confessions Study

 

PDFs for download:

false-confessions_causes_consequences_and_implications

the_innocence_project-news_and_information_press_releases

falseconfessionsappendixa1