Chicago Post-Conviction and Federal Habeas Lawyer

The Law Office of Douglas B. Harper represents prisoners in court proceedings to win their freedom or reduce their sentence. These cases usually involve innocent prisoner defense, representing prisoners who were wrongly convicted or sentenced unfairly by an Illinois court or a federal court located in or near Chicago.

This practice area involves the following types of proceedings:

  • Direct criminal appeals
  • Illinois post-conviction petitions
  • Federal petitions for writ of habeas corpus

As a former criminal prosecutor, himself, and as someone who was also trained to handle complex civil litigation as a partner at a mid-sized Chicago law firm, Mr. Harper applies his experience to get results. In some cases, he is able to find evidence to prove that incarcerated prisoners are actually innocent.

Direct Criminal Appeals

The direct criminal appeal is the appeal which arises directly after a criminal conviction, as a continuation of the original criminal prosecution.

The law office handles direct criminal appeals for state and federal prisoners convicted anywhere in Illinois. For Illinois state prisoners, the law office brings their appeals in the Illinois Appellate Courts and the Illinois Supreme Court. For federal prisoners, the law office brings their appeals in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. The law office also handles petitions for writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Illinois Post-Conviction Petitions

A post-conviction petition is a collateral proceeding (meaning, not part of the original criminal prosecution) brought in state court for the purpose of challenging constitutional violations which occurred at a prisoner's criminal trial.

The law office handles Illinois post-conviction petitions for Cook County convictions, and occasionally for convictions that were entered in other counties in northeastern Illinois including Will, DuPage, and Lake County. The law office also handles appeals from adverse rulings in Illinois post-conviction proceedings, appealing to the Illinois Appellate Courts and the Illinois Supreme Court. On occasion, the office also seeks to appeal those rulings to the Supreme Court of the United States with a petition for writ of certiorari.

Federal Petitions for Writ of Habeas Corpus

A federal petition for writ of habeas corpus is a collateral proceeding (not part of the original prosecution) brought in federal court to show that a prisoner is being held in violation of rights granted by the United States Constitution and, in some cases, in violation of federal statutes.

The law office handles federal petitions for writ of habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois usually regarding convictions entered in Cook County, Illinois, and sometimes in the Illinois counties of Lake, DuPage, Will, Kane, Kendall, Grundy, and LaSalle. In special cases, the law office also handles habeas petitions regarding convictions entered in the Illinois counties of McHenry, Boone, DeKalb, Winnebago, and Lee.

Examples of Prisoner Defense We Won

The case described below is an example of a successful post conviction proceeding Mr. Harper handled.

Innocent Man Serving a Life Sentence, Released From Prison on Successful Illinois Post-Conviction Petition

In 1983, David Fauntleroy was arrested for a murder he did not commit. Chicago police detectives working under Lieutenant Commander Jon Burge beat Mr. Fauntleroy with flashlights and took him to an undeveloped, wooded area in the middle of the night. They put a gun in his mouth and told him to say he committed the crime or else they would kill him. He gave the false confession. It caused him to be convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Over 25 years later, in 2009, Mr. Harper represented Mr. Fauntleroy in proceedings under the Illinois Post Conviction Hearing Act and won Mr. Fauntleroy's freedom. The court vacated Mr. Fauntleroy's conviction, dismissed all charges against him, and ordered his immediate release from prison. His release was reported across the country by various news agencies including Chicago Tribune which reported the following:

After serving 25 years of a life sentence in prison, David Fauntleroy was scheduled to be heading home Friday a free man....

Conviction out, man to walk free, Chicago Tribune, January 10, 2009, Chicagoland:12.

The Chicago Sun Times also reported Mr. Fauntleroy's release, publishing this article:

Another chapter in the alleged Jon Burge torture cases was closed Friday, when murder charges against a Chicago man who spent more than 25 years behind bars....

Charges against alleged Burge victim dismissed, Chicago Sun Times, January 11, 2009, Metro:13A

In the many years following his release, Mr. Fauntleroy has remained gainfully employed and happily married.

Internet Resources for Criminal Matters

If you came to this website looking for information about a minor criminal matter and you did not find what you were expecting, these resources may be helpful.

This link to Cook County Expungement & Record Sealing will take you to a website maintained by the Circuit Court of Cook County where you will find information on how to clear your record regarding minor traffic infractions and matters involving expungement.


Contact Information

The Law Office of Douglas B. Harper 70 West Madison Street, Suite 1400 Chicago, Illinois 60602-4267 Consultation: (312) 214-7040 Direct: (312) 214-2454 Fax: (312) 212-4102


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