KANKAKEE — On the day Terrence Haynes had his 1999 murder case expunged, the federal wrongful conviction civil lawsuit filed by his attorneys unexpectedly came up during the hearing.
It came in the form of Jeffrey R. Kivetz, an attorney with Sotos Law Firm of Chicago.
It turned what was expected to be a mere formality of a certificate of innocence being granted to Haynes into a tense situation in which Judge Michael Sabol had Kivetz removed from the courtroom by bailiff John Higginson.
As Haynes’ attorneys Andrew Hale and Shawn Barnett of Hale and Monico of Chicago and Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe were set to begin the hearing, Kivetz said the firm he works for, Sotos Law Firm of Chicago, represented parties being sued by Haynes. Those parties included the City of Kankakee, former Kankakee County prosecutors Frank Astrella and Michael Jeneary, and current and former Kankakee police officers Kenneth Lowman, Samuel Miller and Susan Wagner.
Haynes also is suing the Kankakee County State’s Attorney’s office, the Kankakee County Public Defenders office and attorney Jamie Boyd, who was Haynes’ public defender in his 2000 trial.
Kivetz said he wanted to speak about the certificate. Rowe and Barnett both said Kivetz had no connection with this case. Judge Sabol told Kivetz agreed and asked him to sit.
After Kivetz attempted two more times to be heard, Rowe asked that Kivetz be held in contempt and that Sabol have him removed from the courtroom.
As Kivetz was being escorted out he said, “I wasn’t trying to be rude. I just was trying to give our opinion.”
Attorney James G. Sotos said Kivetz was referencing an opinion of the Illinois Appellate Court that reversed Haynes’ second conviction, saying it was only the verdict and not the charges.
During a hearing in the case before Judge Kathy Bradshaw-Elliott in June, Rowe had the charges dismissed. That opened the door for Haynes to file for the certificate of innocence.
The granting of the certificate allows Haynes to seek restitution up to $200,000 from the state of Illinois.
Sotos said Haynes’ attorneys wanted the certificate as part of their civil action.
The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, costs and for “any additional relief that is just and proper.”
Sotos said, “They are asking for millions of dollars and the certificate is something they can use as part of their argument.”
“It is disappointing the court did not provide the other side an opportunity to present their side.”
In the lawsuit, they argue that Haynes’ constitutional rights were violated, including the Fourth Amendment (unreasonable search and seizures) and 14th Amendment (due process).
The other four counts deal with Illinois state law (malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, legal malpractice and compensation).
The lawsuit claims Jeneary and Astrella concealed a family relationship between Jeneary and a key witness, and Astrella instructed an eyewitness to lie so he could convict Haynes.
It also claims Boyd did not “zealously represent” Haynes. He did not personally or have any staff interview witnesses who could support Haynes’ self-defense strategy, the suit claims.
It further claims Lowman, Miller and Wagner fabricated police reports and concealed exculpatory evidence from Haynes.