February 25, 2020

Chief Judge Timothy Evans
Cook County Circuit Court
50 West Washington Street, #2600
Chicago, Illinois 60602

Re:      inquiry request in the case of People V. Gerald Reed
(No. 90 CR 12036), Presiding Judge Thomas Hennelly 

Dear Chief Judge Evans:

In October 1990, Gerald Reed was arrested by members of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), taken to Area 3, and tortured until he signed a confession to  crimes that he did not commit.[1] We request that you intervene in Gerald’s case—within any legal, procedural, or ethical restrictions—to prevent a serious miscarriage of justice. As the administrative arm of the Circuit Court of Cook County, we strongly encourage you to investigate the actions taken by Judge Thomas Hennelly in the Reed case.

Judge Hennelly presided over Gerald’s case with the full knowledge that he had served as legal counsel for the State as an assistant cook county state's attorney (ASA) in the interrogation of Aaron Patterson. Patterson was tortured at Area 2 of CPD in the early-to-late 1980's. He was sentenced to death, but eventually exonerated by Governor Pat Ryan because the evidence showed that ASA Hennelly, and Chief Deputy SA Robert Milan, had built a case that rested entirely on a false confession.

The Cook County Special Prosecutor in the Reed case is Robert Milan, who worked for the Cook County State's Attorney’s Office (CCSAO). Milan was Cook County State’s Attorney Richard Devine’s chief deputy—and supervised Judge Hennelly at the CCSAO.

In July 2012, Gerald’s case was reviewed by the Illinois Torture Inquiry and Relief Commission (TIRC). TIRC found that Gerald’s claim of torture was credible and that it merited judicial review. Gerald’s case was assigned by your office to Judge Thomas Gainer. The case lingered in the courts for over six and a half years before the court held an evidentiary hearing on Gerald’s claim of actual innocence and police torture. 

Judge Gainer ruled in favor of Gerald, finding that he was coerced, tortured, and deprived of his constitutional rights. Judge Gainer suppressed Gerald’s forced confession, vacated Gerald’s conviction on December 18, 2018, and ordered a new trial. Gerald was remanded from the custody of the Illinois Department of Corrections to the custody of the Cook County Jail. 

Reed should have been treated like a pre-trial detainee and granted a bond hearing. He had no conviction or sentence. 

On Friday, February 14th, 2020, Judge Hennelly reversed the order by Judge Gainer that was the result of the evidentiary hearing.[2] He did this without providing any prior warning to Gerald’s defense counsel. It was revealed in court that Judge Hennelly had conducted his own ‘discovery’ mission of sorts; he played an audio recording of an excerpt from a conversation on Gerald’s case between TIRC members, obviously extracted from a longer discussion.

In an inflammatory rant on Valentine’s Day, Judge Hennelly accused Gerald of jumping “ghost-riders” style on “Burge’s torture bus," ignoring the evidence that Gerald, from the outset of his trial, had reported that the police had tortured him and that the confession was coerced.[3],[4]

We the undersigned ask that you fulfill your judiciary and administrative duties by conducting a full investigation into the proceedings before Judge Hennelly in the case of People V. Gerald Reed.





[1] See Case Disposition, TIRC Claim No. 2011.030-R.

[2] Judge Hennelly’s actions are a clear affront to the law-of-the-case doctrine barring the “relitigation of an issue previously decided in the same case.” See People v. Peterson, 106 N.E.3d 944 (Ill. 2017).

[3] See, e.g., Case Disposition, TIRC Claim No. 2011.030-R (“Not only is this Claim supported by the undisputed medical records, but also [Gerald Reed] has consistently asserted this Claim beginning with the motion to suppress in 1992, and continuing with his Post-Conviction Petition in 2005, his civil rights complaint in 2011, and his Claim fore the TIRC.”).

[4] Judge Hennelly’s claim that Gerald was simply jumping on the bus ex post facto is ironic because it is in fact Judge Hennelly who jumped on the “ghost-rider” bandwagon, using Judge William Hooks’ same inflammatory words from a decision earlier this year in the case of George Anderson.