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Attorney Jon Loevy.
Attorney Jon Loevy, who represented T.J. during his wrongful-conviction lawsuit.
Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times

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‘Motive’ Episode 8: T.J. v. The City of Chicago

T.J. and his attorney file a wrongful-conviction lawsuit against the City of Chicago, but how will living through the details of the trial affect T.J.?

Two legal heavyweights square off in federal court in T.J.’s wrongful-conviction lawsuit against the City of Chicago. Attorney Jon Loevy is on T.J.’s side. Attorney Andy Hale is in the city’s corner. T.J. is seeking millions of dollars for the 16 years he was locked up for murder.

Hale’s job isn’t easy. Even though the state granted T.J. a “certificate of innocence,” Hale must persuade the jury of T.J.’s guilt and that the police did nothing wrong. We know how the story ends: The jury awards T.J. $25 million.

But how exactly did that happen? And what did sitting through that trial — and reliving the painful details of his arrest and his time in prison — do to T.J.?

You can listen to “Motive” wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Spotify, and Stitcher.

Motive extra features

Get a look at the real-life people and places covered in this episode of “Motive.” Meet T.J., his mother Victoria and the family members, friends and lawyers who tell his story.

Andy Hale

Shown here on Aug. 22, 2001, Chicago attorney Andrew Hale filed a lawsuit against Jewel and Dominick’s for price fixing of milk.
Shown here on Aug. 22, 2001, Chicago attorney Andrew Hale filed a lawsuit against Jewel and Dominick’s for price fixing of milk.
Jean Lachat/Sun-Times

Andy Hale often defends the City of Chicago in lawsuits alleging the police wrongfully arrested people, but he has also represented people claiming they were victims of police misconduct.

Phil Torres

Phil Torres sitting in a chair at a desk
Phil Torres
Federal court files

had testified against T.J. at his murder trial in the ‘90s. He said he looked out of his third-floor window and saw T.J. shoot Eric Morro as they stood next to the Honey Baked Ham store on Belmont Avenue in Chicago. Later, in a raucous deposition, Loevy and Hale both question Phil about the night of the murder in 1993.

Opening statements

In T.J.’s federal trial over his wrongful-conviction lawsuit against the city, his attorney Jon Loevy argues that a Chicago police detective named Jerome Bogucki pressured witnesses into identifying T.J. as a killer in 1993. And when another possible suspect surfaced, the detective ignored it, according to Loevy. The city’s attorney, Andy Hale, argues that T.J. did kill Eric Morro and that prosecutors were duped 16 years later into asking a judge to overturn his murder conviction. So T.J doesn’t deserve a dime, Hale tells the jurors.

A secret tape

Screen grab of secret federal tapes Federal court files

This is a screen grab from a video showing English subtitles for a Spanish-language audio recording. The translation was used by the lawyers involved in T.J.s wrongful-conviction lawsuit against the city. In 1993 — after Detective Bogucki had arrested T.J. for murder — this audio recording emerged. It cast suspicion on a different possible shooter in the murder of Eric Morro.

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