Foley, Larry-Profile-Judge Douglas Ruling Raises
Judge Douglas Ruling Raises
Questions of Judicial Fairness
IPSN Sept. 22, 1997
Did Cook County justice go awry in the 1992 conviction of Larry Foley? And, what role did convicted Judge Paul Foxgrover play in the events that led to the ruling by his close friend, Judge Loretta C. Douglas?
If Larry Foley’s troubles had occurred anywhere else but in Chicago’s elite and politically clouted Beverly Hills community, you might believe that what happened to him was all his fault.
Foley, a former high school wrestler who always seemed to get into fights helping his friends, apparently found himself embroiled with the wrong guy.
Today, Foley is serving a six year sentence on an Attempted First Degree Murder conviction that the facts in the case just don’t seem to prove.
The smell from the criminal case is so strong, any reasonable person might conclude that Judge Loretta C. Douglas’ verdict convicting Foley is ludicrous. The sentence was excessive and unjustified. And, one might also wonder if Judge Douglas’ role could have challenged her competency to continue to serve on the bench.
Political clout and friendships and behind-the-scenes maneuvers pervade this case and overshadow other evidence that Judge Douglas refused to consider.
One fact remains that might cast a serious cloud on this case. Judge Douglas is a very close and personal friend of former Judge Paul Foxgrover, who was convicted in the post-Greylord investigations for stealing money paid by defendants brought before his bench.
But, Judge Foxgrover is also a close neighbor, colleague and friend of the plaintiff, Steven Maxwell, who brought the charges in this case against Larry Foley.
The Details of the Case:
Maxwell is a Chicago fireman whose brother is a Chicago cop and whose father taught at the police academy. The Maxwell’s have friends. And their friends include many judges and politicians. Foxgrover is a former member of the Chicago Fire Department.
Foley’s friends include his stepfather, who is a retired Evergreen Park police officer and his mother, who is on a mission to prove that her son was railroaded by an unfair system.
It seems that several years ago, Foley had gotten into a high school fight with some relatives of Maxwell.
The two young men knew each other. The two men and their families had some history involving allegations of intimidation and harassment. Foley and Maxwell’s sister had several confrontations. Maxwell’s sister was close friends with a powerful Evergreen Park Police sergeant who had also hassled Foley in the past.
But on Feb. 10, 1990, events changed and the conflict went from one of two teenagers with a longtime running feud to felony charges and suggestions that the judge in the case might have had a conflict of interest.
On the evening of Feb. 10, 1990, at around 11:25 pm, according to Maxwell’s testimony, he was looking out his front window when he saw Foley and a friend, Daniel Faddah, drive slowly past his parked car in front of his home at 10054 S. Campbell. The car drove by a second time. After the second pass, Maxwell asserted in his preliminary testimony, he ran outside to see if Foley or Faddah had damaged his car, a black Trans Am.
There was no damage, but Maxwell, who said he could see Foley’s face in the car 35 feet away from his frontroom window, claimed he was standing next to his car when Foley and Faddah drove their red Escort past a third time, at a speed of about 25 miles per hour.
According to Maxwell, Foley swung his car sideways as he passed in the narrow side street, striking Maxwell and throwing him against the Foley’s car’s windshield. Foley, according to Maxwell, continued driving after Maxwell landed on the front hood, until, a few minutes later, Foley’s car turned and Maxwell was tossed from the car into the nearby park.
There were cars parked on both sides of the narrow street where Maxwell alleged the “attempted murder” occurred, and the speed limit there was only 30 miles per hour.
That was Maxwell’s preliminary testimony, according to records.
At the trial, however, Maxwell’s testimony changed. He said he was watching a video, had noticed a car drive by, but had walked outside not to check his car for damage but innocently to put the video in his car trunk. That is what, Maxwell later asserted, that Foley just surprised him and used his car as a deadly weapon to strike him so hard he went flying on the hood and windshield — but not hard enough to strike the cars parked on narrow Campbell street.
Boy, that Foley must be a race car driver to surgically single out Maxwell, strike him going a ferocious 25 to 30 miles and hour (the speed limit) and steer his car so perfectly that it wouldn’t strike another car parked on either side on the narrow street. (Too bad Foley wasn’t driving for Princess Di. Of course, that’s another Fairy Tale.)
Maxwell called Chicago Police and claimed that he had been injured in the attack by Foley.
Foley has a different story. But today, he is serving hard time at prison down in Galesburg, a medium/maximum facility prison, finishing the first year of a six year sentence.
According to Foley, Maxwell came to his house in Evergreen Park at 10059 S. Sawyer.
Foley charges Maxwell jumped on to his car as he was parking it in front of his house. That, Foley claims, is how Maxwell was injured. He says Maxwell began beating the windshield with a metal object.
Foley said he had a witness with him, the same person Maxwell had claimed was the second unidentified passenger in Foley’s car.
Maxwell, Foley claimed, then sped off in his black Trans Am, wheels screeching. Foley’s mother called Evergreen Park Police after making a frantic call to her brother. The Evergreen Park police arrived at 11:40 PM. Maxwell had called Chicago Police.
Maxwell’s family includes longtime Chicago cops, and he clearly had the advantage when Chicago Police went to Foley’s Evergreen Park home seeking his arrest. They were not interested in speaking with the Evergreen Park police who were also investigating.
After an investigation by the Chicago Police, the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office approved felony charges of “Attempted First Degree Murder” against Foley. Foley hired attorney Robert J. Clifford, and Maxwell was represented by assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Joel Leighton.
During the investigation, Faddah, who was a witness for Foley, charged that he was being intimidated and harassed by Maxwell.
The case was originally brought before Judge Frank Meekins in Bridgeview. Meekins was later reassigned to Markham and he was replaced by Judge Loretta C. Douglas.
At first, Douglas was fair to both sides. But later, as the case went on, Douglas had become reticent, and she began to reject many motions Foley’s attorney Robert Clifford had made, including that Maxwell was intimidating Faddah, a key witness who disputed Maxwell’s story. Faddah claimed that Maxwell threatened to beat him up if he testified on behalf of Foley. (Had it been a state witness threatened by a defense witness, an immediate arrest warrant would have been issued and the state more than likely would have sought prosecution.)
The entire case presented by Leighten was based on Maxwell’s testimony, and weak evidence placing the incident at Campbell Street, Maxwell’s home, instead of at Foley’s home in Evergreen Park, more than 8 blocks away.
The only evidence Judge Douglas considered was that Maxwell’s knees were injured and he had a bruised rear-end.(Maxwell had previously had meniscus cartilage surgery on the same knees. The judge refused to consider that evidence in the case. How much pressure would it take to re-injure those knees?) Judge Douglas also had Maxwell’s testimony.
Foley’s attorney never denied that Maxwell had sustained some injuries in the confrontation. Foley claims they occurred as Maxwell jumped on his moving car as he was parking. But the real issue is, where did it all happen?
Despite all of Foley’s witnesses, Douglas chose to believe the sole testimony of Maxwell that it occurred in front of Maxwell’s home and not in front of Foley’s home.
Douglas also refused to allow Attorney Clifford to introduce abundant evidence of past violent acts by Maxwell against Foley and Foley’s family. The kids and members of the family had bad blood, which could bolster Foley’s case that Maxwell had a motive to attack him. Douglas ruled the evidence of a past feud was irrelevant. Repeated incidents where Maxwell allegedly harassed Foley and his family, driving by the home, sitting in front of Foley’s home in the car, were all cast aside by Judge Douglas as insignificant.
Oh really, Judge?
The Bottom Line:
No one is saying that someone got to Judge Loretta C. Douglas.
But, if you wanted to, Judge Paul Foxgrover would have been the man to go see.
Foxgrover lived at 10501 Talman, which was separated from Maxwell’s home by the large park where Maxwell alleged he had been left by the fleeing Foley and his friend, Faddah. You can see Foxgrover’s home from Maxwell’s, across the park.
According to at least one judge, Maxwell made feverish efforts to influence the case on his behalf. And Foley’s attorney believes at least one contact with a judge at Bridgeview had been made.
Other witnesses had seen Maxwell visiting the Foxgrover home nearby.
The fact is, though, that it doesn’t matter whether or not influence was or was not used.
It doesn’t matter whether the outcome of the case had anything directly to do with Maxwell’s politically connected ties to Foxgrover or to other politicians or even through the Chicago Police Department, the Evergreen Park Police Department or through the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office.
What matters is that the potential for wrongdoing existed.
And what really matters even more is that somehow, Foxgrover, a convicted felon himself who was sentenced to jail for betraying the public trust by stealing money from defendants brought before his bench, had the opportunity to influence a judge who everyone says was his very close friend.
Who is Judge Foxgrover?
Foxgrover was charged in the post-Greylord case at about the same time the Foley case was going to trial in 1992. Appointed an associate judge in 1984, Foxgrover did not resign his post until June 17, 1992.
Evidence presented in the post-Greylord case showed that Foxgrover had deposited some $50,000 in money orders in his personal bank account between January 1990 and July 1991, money orders made out to the judge by defendants who appeared before his court.
What an idiot!
But, would it be beyond a judge like Foxgrover to try and use his friendship to influence another judge to help his neighbor, friend and Chicago Fire Department colleague?
Foxgrover, convicted on rock solid evidence that went beyond a shadow of a doubt, was sentenced to six years in prison for theft, official misconduct and forgery. It was like a countryclub for the esteemed Cook County Judge.
Larry Foley, on the otherhand, whose confrontation with Steven Maxwell is questionable and the evidence is certainly weak at best, entered Galesburg Medium/Maximum Security prison on Sept. 20, 1996 to serve hard time.
Just this month, Foley finished the first year of his six year term. With good behavior, Foley can be released after only serving two more years behind bars, and would serve the remaining three years of his sentence in mandatory supervised probation.
No evidence of glass was found at Maxwell’s house from Foley’s car’s shattered windshield.
No evidence of glass was found from Foley’s car’s windshield in Maxwell’s clothes — Maxwell said the windshield shattered when his body hit it! Leighton noted that Maxwell’s nylon jacket had some snags and a “gash” that did not correspond to any bodily injury.
Minute paint chips matching Foley’s car were found on Maxwell’s. But that could just as easily strengthen Foley’s case that Maxwell may have jumped on the car. (Clifford says Maxwell is a karate afficionado.)
No witnesses saw this so-called “attempted drive by murder.” (Mrs. Maxwell called 911 and said she had not seen anything, but later told Chicago Police at the scene that she witnessed the alleged hit and run.)
If Foley had really swerved his car to strike Maxwell on that crowded Campbell Street, why wasn’t there any damage to Maxwell’s black Trans Am?
Larry Foley wasn’t even guilty of speeding. Before the incident, he had spent the entire day helping his former high school coaches at a wrestling match and had just arrived home.
Judge Douglas did not return telephone messages left with her court clerk aide from the Illinois Police and Sheriff’s News.
The thought that Foxgrover may or may not have been involved should be enough to convince Governor Jim Edgar to re-examine this case. The Governor can determine if justice should finally prevail and a man, who is more than likely innocent of these charges, should be pardoned.
Then, someone might want to take another look at the Cook County Judicial System.
Just make sure you wear a gas mask when you do.