A Wrongful Conviction, A Story in Several Parts

Part One: A Brief Introduction

Roger Touhy was a bootlegger, a very successful bootlegger, in Chicago in the 1920s. Then he came to the attention of Al Capone, an ambitious politician, and an aggressive police captain.

In 1933, he was arrested and ultimately charged with two separate kidnapping cases. Over the next quarter century, Touhy was tried, retried, convicted, appealed, went to prison, escaped, was recaptured, and filed more post-conviction apoeals. Finally, in November 1959, Touhy was paroled, only to be gunned down on a front porch a month later.

His story has been told before, as an example of Chicago’s wild and woolly mobster days. Over the next several weeks, a series of posts will look instead at what his case tells us about the problems of challenging a wrongful conviction.


Writer. Formerly civil rights attorney. Currently professor. Working on new book about mental disability and criminal law in the 20th century.

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