Hobbs' Lawsuit Proceeds Against Lake County Prosecutor - The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

The Chicago Personal Injury Law Blog

Hobbs' Lawsuit Proceeds Against Lake County Prosecutor

In 2005, Jerry Hobbs discovered the body of his 8-year-old daughter Laura and her 9-year-old friend, Krystal Tobias, in a Zion park. The tragic discovery was made worse when police kept Hobbs in custody for over twenty-four hours and repeatedly accused him of stabbing the girls.

Eventually, Hobbs confessed. In that confession, he admitted that he beat his daughter when she refused his orders to come home, and when 9-year-old Tobias rushed toward him with a knife, he disarmed her and killed them both, reports the Chicago Tribune.

That all turned out to be false, and was the byproduct of a coerced confession that was allegedly supervised by the Lake County Prosecutor's office.

In 2007, defense attorneys learned that semen was found in Laura's body. Initially, prosecutors argued that the semen got in to her body because she played in an area where couples snuck away for frolics in the forest.

Three years later, the DNA hit match in a database. It matched Jorge Torrez, who was living near the girls at the time of the attacks, was friends with Tobias' half-brother, and was later convicted of a series of attacks on women in the Washington D.C. area. He's serving five life sentences for the D.C. attacks and could face the death penalty for another attack on a 20-year-old Navy Petty Officer in 2009.

After spending five years in jail awaiting trial for the murder of his own daughter, Hobbs was freed. Now, he's suing the prosecutor's office for its role in his ordeal.

Generally, prosecutors are immune from lawsuits. As a society, we like them to be able to operate freely, without fear of lawsuits, in the pursuit of truth and justice. This means that prosecutors cannot be sued for attempting to bring a person to justice, even if that person is innocent.

However, when prosecutors step into the province of investigators, and blur the lines between police detective work and prosecutorial duties, they open themselves up to litigation.

In this suit, the prosecutors allegedly coached the detectives through the interrogation, and then used the false confession against him. The ruling from late last week only held that immunity does not apply. It did not find the prosecutors' office liable for any alleged misconduct. Still, immunity was one of the bigger hurdles to overcome.

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