Loevy & Loevy Client Juan Rivera Awarded Largest Wrongful Conviction Settlement in U.S. History

Loevy & Loevy client Juan A. Rivera, Jr., announced on Friday, March 20, 2015, that he has agreed to a $20 million settlement of all claims in the civil rights case Rivera v. Lake County, et al., No. 12 C 8665 (N.D. Ill.). Mr. Rivera’s $20 million settlement is believed to be the largest pre-trial settlement of an individual case of wrongful conviction in U.S. history. Mr. Rivera’s civil case was a collaborative effort of Loevy & Loevy and the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University Law School.

“No amount of money could ever sum up to 20 years in prison,” Mr. Rivera said Friday at Loevy & Loevy’s Chicago offices. Mr. Rivera announced the settlement surrounded by his family.

Steve Art, one of Mr. Rivera’s attorneys, said that the settlement “demonstrates that there was serious alleged misconduct and that this case was very winnable for Mr. Rivera at trial. It also shows taxpayers in Lake County, [Illinois] that there’s a serious price to pay when police and other actors in the criminal justice system violate individual rights.”

Juan Rivera was imprisoned almost 20 years for a rape and murder he did not commit. There was not one piece of physical evidence connecting Mr. Rivera to the crime. In fact, DNA from biological evidence found inside of the victim excluded Mr. Rivera and pointed to another suspect, who went on to commit other serious crimes. 

Mr. Rivera’s suit alleged that police offices and prosecutors interrogated him over a period of four days, culminating in more than 24 hours of near-constant interrogation. As a result, Mr. Rivera signed a statement that police had typed, implicating himself falsely in the crime. Mr. Rivera’s civil complaint is available here.

Media reports of Mr. Rivera’s settlement have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, the New York Daily News, and the ABA Journal.

Mr. Rivera is represented by the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center at Northwestern University Law School and Loevy & Loevy Attorneys at Law. His attorneys include Locke Bowman, David Shapiro, Sheila Bedi, Alexa Van Brunt, and Steve Weil of the MacArthur Justice Center, J. Samuel Tenebaum of the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern University Law School, and Arthur Loevy, Jon LoevyRussell Ainsworth, Elizabeth Mazur, Steve ArtScott Rauscher, and Elliot Slosar of Loevy & Loevy.

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