Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Second Division
from the Circuit Court Of Cook County. No. 06 CR 810 The
Honorable Leroy Martin, Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE NEVILLE delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Presiding Justice Mason and Justice Pucinski
concurred in the judgment and opinion.
1 When corrupt police officers demanded a bribe from Ben
Baker, Baker and his wife, Clarissa Glenn, told the Chicago
Police Department Office of Professional Standards (OPS)
about the crime. The OPS did nothing to slow down the
criminals. Instead, it informed the corrupt officers about
the complaint, and named the source. Corrupt officers
arrested Baker and Glenn and used perjured testimony to
induce the court to find Baker and Glenn guilty of felonies.
Years later, federal authorities successfully prosecuted some
of the criminals on the police force who induced the felony
convictions of Baker and Glenn. Baker and Glenn petitioned
for certificates of innocence under section 2-702 of the Code
of Civil Procedure (Code). 735 ILCS 5/2-702 (West 2016). The
State's Attorney did not oppose the petitions. The
circuit court granted Baker's petition but denied
Glenn's petition because she received a sentence of
probation for the felony conviction. Glenn appealed. The
State's Attorney has not opposed the appeal.
2 We find that section 2-702, interpreted in accord with our
supreme court's construction of the Post-Conviction
Hearing Act (Act) (725 ILCS 5/122-1 et seq. (West
2016)), permits the circuit court to issue a certificate of
innocence to a person sentenced only to probation. We reverse
the circuit court's judgment and remand with directions
to grant Glenn's petition.
4 In June 2004, Baker learned from a friend that Sergeant
Ronald Watts of the Chicago Police Department intended to
charge Baker with possession of heroin. Charles Lawrence, an
associate of Watts, told Baker that Watts wanted to talk to
Baker. Lawrence brought Baker to a pay phone, where Lawrence
made a call. Lawrence told Baker he could avoid the charge of
heroin possession if he gave Watts $1000. Baker took the
phone and spoke directly with Watts. Baker told Watts he
would not pay the extortion demanded.
5 On July 12, 2004, Watts and other officers entered and
searched the home Baker and Glenn shared. Although the
officers found nothing, they arrested Baker and charged him
with possession of heroin, claiming that they found heroin in
Baker's mailbox. Baker stayed in jail four months before
obtaining release. Alvin Jones, a member of Watts's team,
told Baker, "next time, *** it will stick."
6 On March 23, 2005, members of Watts's team arrested
Baker and charged him with possessing heroin. Baker and Glenn
contacted OPS and reported Watts's efforts to extort a
bribe from Baker. On December 12, 2005, before trial on the
March charge, Jones and other officers from Watts's team
arrested Baker and Glenn and charged both of them with
possessing heroin with intent to deliver.
7 The March 2005 charge came to trial in May 2006. Officer
Nichols testified that on March 23, 2005, he saw Baker
holding a clear plastic bag containing smaller bags of white
powder. Nichols testified that Baker admitted that the bags
contained heroin and it belonged to him. Baker testified
about his prior contacts with Watts and the officers who
worked with Watts. Baker said the officers brought the heroin
presented in court. The trial court found Baker guilty and
sentenced him to 18 years in prison.
8 The December 2005 charge came before the court in September
2006, when Baker and Glenn agreed to plead guilty to charges
of possession in exchange for a sentence of 4 years'
imprisonment for Baker and one year of probation for Glenn.
The trial court imposed the agreed sentences and said:
"I know *** what your position has been with regard to
these police officers. ***
There has not been [a] sufficient showing *** that these are
renegade police officer[s]. ***
If that should happen here in this case I would have no
hesitation but to vacate all of the guilty findings,