A year after their murder convictions were tossed and they were freed from an Illinois prison where they’d spent 26 years, a pair of brothers got a certificate of innocence from a state court on May 31, 2023. Cook County Circuit Court Judge Erica Reddick also offered an apology to Juan Hernandez, 46, and his brother Rosendo, 44, for their time spent wrongfully imprisoned.
The pair walked out of Dixon Correctional Center on July 15, 2022, after prosecutors agreed to drop all charges against them. Why? Because they had been brought by now-retired Chicago Police Department (CPD) Det. Reynaldo Guevera at the behest of his partner, Joseph Miedzianowski, who suspected the brothers of interfering in a drug operation he was running.
Miedzianowksi was convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to life without parole in 2001. Guevara took his CPD pension and retired to Texas in 2005. After fellow CPD cop Bill Dorsch blew the whistle on Guevera and Miedzianowski’s extortion—shaking down innocent suspects with threats of prosecution—the convictions they obtained started falling like dominoes. [See: PLN, Dec. 2019, p.26.] So far, prosecutors have dropped charges in 30 cases, including eight people freed in a mass exoneration in 2022. The city has also made nearly $70 million in payouts to victims.
“I’m just grateful that finally the acknowledgment came, the apology came, and the state did not contest it, because they knew that we were innocent,” Juan Hernandez said. “I wish it was sooner, but we made it. We’re out, we’re free, and I’m just thankful for that.”
Their certificate of innocence paves the way for the brothers to seek up to $200,000 each in state compensation for their wrongful imprisonment. With the aid of attorneys from Loevy & Loevy in Chicago, they have also filed a civil rights suit in federal court for the Northern District of Illinois, seeking damages from Guevara, Miedzianowski and the city. See: Hernandez v. Guevara, USDC (N.D. Ill.), Case No. 1:23-cv-01737.
Additional sources: Chicago Reader, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Tribune, WGN
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Related legal case
Hernandez v. Guevara
|USDC (N.D. Ill.), Case No. 1:23-cv-01737