Stories by Matt Masterson

Report: Illinois Again Leads Nation in Exonerations

(Thomas Hawk / Flickr)

For the second year in a row, Illinois saw the highest numer of criminal exonerations last year, and once again, that total was driven largely by false convictions tied to a corrupt former Chicago sergeant, according to a new report.

CPS Unveils Remote Learning Plan for Kids During COVID-19 Pandemic

The new instruction plan includes the distribution of 100,000 technology devices to the highest-need families as well as both online and non-digital learning activities.

Cook County Jail Population Decreases as Number of COVID-19 Cases Balloons

(WTTW News)

Nearly 40 detainees have so far tested positive for the virus at Cook County Jail. Officials on Friday discussed those rapidly changing circumstances and said they’re working to “safely” reduce the detainee population.

What Happens if You Violate Stay-at-Home Order? Police Say Warnings, Fines or Even Arrests

A scene along Chicago’s lakefront on Thursday, March 26, 2020. (WTTW News)

The Chicago Police Department on Wednesday issued warnings to 56 separate groups of people and made one arrest for failing to abide by the governor’s order to stay home.

More COVID-19 Cases Discovered in Cook County Jail

By Wednesday evening, 17 detainees had tested positive

(WTTW News)

The number of Cook County Jail detainees who have tested positive for COVID-19 nearly tripled between Wednesday morning and evening, according to the sheriff’s office, which has now tested 50 individuals who have begun exhibiting flu-like symptoms.

CPS Approved for $75 Million in Spending to Address COVID-19 Emergency

The Board of Education unanimously voted to approve the spending authority, which CPS says it will use to fund emergency personnel, remote learning and meal distribution.

CPS Board of Education to Hold Virtual Meeting With Limited Public Participation

District seeks permission to spend up to $75M on coronavirus response

Chicago Public Schools is seeking to spend up to $75 million to address and maintain “critical services” during the COVID-19 pandemic. But that request and the rest of the board’s monthly meeting will be heard online rather than in person.

2 Detainees in Cook County Jail Test Positive for COVID-19

(WTTW News)

The two detainees, ages 18 and 42, each began exhibiting flu-like symptoms last Friday. They are each being held in isolation at the jail’s Cermak Hospital, officials said Monday.

COVID-19 Case at Cook County Jail Prompts More Calls for Mass Detainee Release

(WTTW News)

A correctional officer who works in the Cook County Jail has tested positive for COVID-19, prompting additional calls for the mass release of some detainees by activists who want to prevent an outbreak within the jail.

Kim Foxx’s Office Won’t Prosecute Low-Level Drug Offenses During COVID-19 Pandemic

Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx appears on “Chicago Tonight” on March 18, 2020. (WTTW News)

“Everyone deserves to be protected, especially during these uncertain times, and we are obligated to ensure all members of our community feel safe, including those behind bars,” said Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx.

US Attorney Tabs Prosecutor to Tackle Cases of COVID-19 Fraud

Dirksen United States Courthouse (Ken Lund / Flickr)

The newly established COVID-19 fraud coordinator will work with law enforcement to spearhead investigations and prosecutions of anyone attempting to “take advantage of people during this time of crisis.”

Lightfoot: CPS Schools to Remain Closed Until Mid-April Due to Spread of COVID-19

Mayor Lori Lightfoot addresses the city of Chicago in a televised address on Thursday, March 19, 2020. (WTTW News)

Chicago’s public schools were set to reopen by the end of the month, but students will instead remain out of class until April 21, according to Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Cook County Sheriff: Cutting Jail Population a ‘High-Priority’ Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Sheriff’s Department looking to release some nonviolent, low-level detainees

(WTTW News)

The Sheriff’s Department says it has placed a “high priority” on reducing the number of nonviolent, low-level offenders in its custody, particularly those who are at an increased risk of the new coronavirus.

Neville, Reyes Remain in Tight Race for Illinois Supreme Court Seat

(Randy von Liski / Flickr)

The man who two years ago was appointed to fill the shoes of longtime Illinois Supreme Court Justice Charles Freeman is in position to keep that seat for another decade. But there are reportedly thousands of votes that remain uncounted.

CPS, Lightfoot Urge Students to Stay Home; Schools Could be Closed Into Next Month

Chicago Public Schools buildings will only be open to provide food and enrichment activity supplies to families during COVID-19 closures. 

Shomari Legghette Found Guilty of Murder in 2018 Shooting of Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer

An image of Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer is shown during closing statements for Shomari Legghette at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse, Friday, March 13, 2020. Legghette was charged with first degree murder in the fatal shooting of Bauer. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune/Pool)

A Cook County jury on Friday convicted Shomari Legghette of gunning down Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer outside the Thompson Center, a shocking murder that marked the highest-ranking Chicago officer to be killed in the line of duty in decades.

Defense Rests After Shomari Legghette Declines Witness Stand in Murder Trial

Shomari Legghette sits before Cook County Judge Erica Reddick on the first day of his murder trial on Tuesday, March 2, 2020. (Pool video)

In a surprise twist Thursday, Shomari Legghette’s defense attorney closed his case after questioning just one witness. Legghette was expected to testify that he shot Chicago police Cmdr. Paul Bauer in self-defense.

Prosecution Rests its Case in Cmdr. Paul Bauer Murder Trial

With the prosecution’s case concluded, the defense attorney for Shomari Legghette will begin calling witnesses Thursday morning. The case is expected to conclude by Friday.

CPS Not Yet Planning to Close More Schools Amid Coronavirus Testing at Vaughn

CPS CEO Janice Jackson, left, and Chicago Department of Public Health Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Layden discuss the school district’s COVID-19 response at a press conference Tuesday, March 10, 2020. (WTTW News)

No additional students or faculty members at Vaughn Occupational High School have tested positive for COVID-19 after one staffer was found to have contracted the virus last week.

Testimony in Paul Bauer Murder Trial Delayed Due to ‘Extenuating Circumstances’

Shomari Legghette sits before Cook County Judge Erica Reddick on the first day of his murder trial on Tuesday, March 2, 2020. (Pool video)

The second week of testimony in the murder trial of Shomari Legghette was unexpectedly delayed Monday by an unknown issue “beyond the control of the court.”

Chicago Police Adding 50 Officers to CTA Lines to Combat Recent Violence

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, CTA President Dorval R. Carter Jr., center, and CPD interim Supt. Charlie Beck, right, address the media Friday morning inside the Roosevelt Red Line CTA station. (Matt Masterson / WTTW News)

A new transit safety plan calls for dozens of police officers on CTA lines and a dedicated support center that will focus on solving crimes committed on the city’s trains and buses.

Prosecutors Reject Plea Deal in Case of Slain Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer

Shomari Legghette, center, appears before Cook County Judge Erica Reddick on Monday, March 12, 2018. (Courtroom sketch by Thomas Gianni). Inset: Chicago Police Cmdr. Paul Bauer.

Jury selection is underway in the trial of a 46-year-old man charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Paul Bauer, a 31-year police veteran near the Thompson Center in 2018.

Ousted Lincoln Park High School Leaders File Defamation Lawsuit Against CPS

Lincoln Park High School (WTTW News)

Former interim principal John Thuet and assistant principal Michelle Brumfield claim CPS disseminated “unfounded, false statements” about them after they were fired last month.

Proposed CPS Calendar for 2020-21 Has Students in School into Late June

Students at Chicago Public Schools have headed back to class earlier and earlier in recent years, but the proposed schedule for next year has classes begin well into September and end late in June.

Jussie Smollett Pleads Not Guilty to New Disorderly Conduct Charges

Former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett, center, arrives for an initial court appearance Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, at the Leighton Criminal Courthouse in Chicago, on a new set of charges alleging that he lied to police about being targeted in a racist and homophobic attack in downtown Chicago early last year.  (AP Photo / Charles Rex Arbogast)

The former “Empire” star appeared at the Leighton Criminal Court Building on Monday, almost a year to the day after he first entered a similar plea in the initial case against him.