Alvarez in the News
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State’s Attorney Alvarez Wins Case Before U.S. Supreme Court
Office of the State's Attorney
The United States Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a Chicago rapist in a case that had potential negative implications for prosecutors across the country and was personally argued by the Cook County State’s Attorney, according to the Office of State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.
The court’s 5-4 decision is a victory for prosecutors and law enforcement across the nation because an unfavorable ruling could have adversely impacted a prosecutor’s ability to use expert testimony in criminal cases about scientific evidence such as DNA.
Last December, State’s Attorney Alvarez traveled to Washington D.C. to personally argue the case that witness testimony in the sexual assault trial had met all of the legal requirements and did not violate the defendant’s constitutional rights. Forty other state and local prosecutors, as well as the United States Government, filed legal briefs supporting Alvarez’s arguments.
“It was an honor and a privilege to be able to argue such an important case before the Supreme Court and we are extremely pleased with this ruling,” Alvarez said. “The court’s decision is a legal victory, not just for prosecutors, but also for crime victims across the nation, who are seeking justice.”
In Williams v. Illinois, Sandy Williams was convicted of raping a young woman on Chicago’s South Side in 2006. Williams challenged his conviction claiming that his constitutional rights were violated when an expert witness testified about DNA evidence linking him to the crime.
In his appeals, Williams’ attorneys argued that the testimony violated the defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront his accuser because her conclusions were based on the results of tests that she had not personally conducted even though she was an expert in forensic DNA analysis.
After both the Illinois Appeals Court and the Illinois Supreme Court ruled against Williams, he appealed to the High Court which agreed to decide the case. An unfavorable ruling could have severely undermined the ability of prosecutors nationwide to use expert testimony on scientific evidence such as DNA in criminal cases.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided in favor of State’s Attorney Alvarez’s position and upheld Williams’ conviction as well as the use of expert testimony.