A Chicago teenager pleaded with Cook County Judge James Linn to impose the maximum prison sentence on the man who sexually assaulted her and her two sisters for several years and threatened to kill them if they told anyone.
“Help us ensure that there will be one less rapist out on the streets,” the woman, then 19, wrote in a victim impact statement read aloud at the sentencing hearing in May 2011. “At the end of the day, I just want justice to be served the correct way. With absolutely no leniency, because he didn’t show us any.”
But in a huge break for the defendant, Joseph Fultz, Linn took the extraordinarily unusual step of reversing the jury’s verdict and convicting him of a far less serious sex charge. Linn then sentenced Fultz to 18 years in prison, a far cry from the mandatory life sentence he faced if the jury’s decision had stood.
For the Cook County state’s attorney’s office, the about-face marked the final straw following a series of what prosecutors viewed as unfavorable decisions by Linn on sex cases, according to internal office emails and interviews with several former prosecutors.
“What is his problem?” then-State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez wrote of Linn in an email at the time. “This is getting out of hand with him.”