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Romanucci & Blandin and Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge file civil lawsuit on behalf of exonerated death row inmate Marilyn Mulero

July 25, 2023

CHICAGO (July 25, 2023) – Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, and Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge, LLC, on behalf of Marilyn Mulero, together announce the filing of a civil lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department and several of its individual officers, including disgraced detectives Reynaldo Guevara and Ernest Halvorsen. The complaint alleges that Guevara, Halvorsen, and other Chicago police officers engaged in a number of unconstitutional and egregious acts that led to Marilyn Mulero’s conviction, including their coercion of a false confession. Chicago police, enabled by a culture of misconduct in their department, coerced 21-year-old Marilyn Mulero’s confession after hours of torturous interrogation, resulting in a death sentence. She spent 28 years incarcerated, with five of those years on Death Row. Guevara has now been accused by the Death Penalty Information Center of framing defendants of murder in more than 50 cases.

The cases are reminiscent of the infamous Chicago Police “Burge Squad,” a group of police officers notorious for corruption and torture led by former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge in the 1970s and 80s.

At least thirty wrongful convictions are tied to Guevara’s corrupt conduct have been overturned, according to New Herald News, with Marilyn Mulero having a historic role. She was the first Latinx woman ever sentenced to death in Illinois, the first woman to be exonerated in a Guevara-related case, and she is the first and only woman exonerated from death row in Cook County, Illinois.   “We no longer believe in the validity of these convictions or the credibility of the evidence of these convictions,” said the Cook County State’s Attorney upon agreeing to dismiss all charges against Mulero without objection in August of 2022. Although a step in the right direction, her exoneration can never give her back the nearly thirty years that she spent in prison, nor the opportunity to raise her two children, who grew up with a wrongfully incarcerated mother. 

Romanucci & Blandin Founding Partner Antonio M. Romanucci, Partner Bhavani K. Raveendran and Attorney Sam A. Harton, together with Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge Founding Partners Brian Eldridge, Steven Hart, Partners Carter Grant, John Marrese and Julie Murphy, and Attorney John Chwarzynski Jr. represent the plaintiff.

The lawsuit was filed on July 24, 2023 in the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. The plaintiff is Marilyn Mulero. The defendants are Reynaldo Guevara; Geri Lynn Yanow as Special Representative for the Estate of Ernest Halvorsen; Stephen Gawrys; Anthony Riccio; Robert Biebel; and the City of Chicago, a municipality.

Counts in the Complaint include:

  • COUNT I – 42 U.S.C § 1983 – False Confession and Fabrication of Evidence - Due Process Clause of 5th and 14th Amendments
  • COUNT II - 42 U.S.C. § 1983 – Brady Violations - Due Process Clause of 5th Amendment
  • COUNT III - 42 U.S.C. § 1983 – Unlawful Detention - 4th and 14th Amendments
  • COUNT IV - 42 U.S.C. § 1983 – Conspiracy to Violate Constitutional Rights
  • COUNT V - 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1986 – Failure to Intervene
  • COUNT VI - 42 U.S.C. § 1983 – Monell Claim against City of Chicago
  • COUNT VII - State Law – Malicious Prosecution
  • COUNT IX - Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
  • COUNT X - Willful and Wanton Conduct
  • COUNT XI - Civil Conspiracy
  • COUNT XII - Respondeat Superior against City of Chicago
  • COUNT XIII - Indemnification against City of Chicago

“After her wrongful conviction in 1993, Marilyn Mulero spent nearly three decades in prison based on evidence fabricated or coerced by detectives Reynaldo Guevara and Ernest Halvorsen. What happened to her was a disgrace by the CPD and these officers, who abused their position and did unthinkable damage to many lives and families, continuing the disturbing and disgusting tradition of Commander Burge. We are fiercely committed to fighting for accountability for Marilyn,” said Romanucci & Blandin Founding Partner Antonio M. Romanucci.

“Tragically, this case is not unique and we know of others. We still believe there are more victims and survivors of these disgraced officers, who have not yet come forward and whose lives were greatly impacted.  For almost 30 years, Marilyn defended her innocence while being strong for her two children, who grew up with a mother in prison. 2023 will be a year of great progress in our understanding of the scope of what happened to Marilyn and how far up the chain of command this behavior went,” said Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge Partner Steven Hart.

“The pattern and practice of police misconduct by Guevara and Halvorsen is unthinkable. Their modus operandi was to use physical and psychological torture to elicit false confessions, fabricate evidence, and manipulate witnesses into giving false statements. And they were able to do this because – for two decades – the Chicago Police Department enabled their misconduct. Because of them, innocent men and women have served more than 800 years behind bars. But more than this case is about Guevara and Halvorsen, it is about Marilyn Mulero – that she was torn away from her young sons at the age of 21, that she was forced to spend 28 extremely tough years in prison, that she sat in isolation on death row not knowing when her fate may come, and that, all-the-while, she lived through the mental and emotional torment that she was an innocent woman. Marilyn is the ultimate survivor and we will get justice on her behalf, “ said Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge Partner Brian Eldridge.

Case Background

On May 12, 1992, Jackie Montanez shot and killed two Latin King street gang members in Humboldt Park. Marilyn Mulero, along with Madeline Mendoza, was in the park but did not participate in the shootings or have any knowledge they were going to occur. Notwithstanding her innocence, Marilyn was subjected to brutal and unconstitutional interrogation tactics to force a confession, including being told she would receive a lethal injection if she did not confess and being taken into the Latin King territory where Guevara and Halvorsen intimidated her by falsely telling gang members that she committed the crime. Jackie Montanez has confessed to both murders. Marilyn, however, was kept behind bars for 28 years. On April 6, 2020, Governor Pritzker commuted her sentence, and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office subsequently confirmed her innocence. On August 9, 2022, Marilyn’s case was dismissed and she was exonerated.

About Romanucci & Blandin, LLC

Romanucci & Blandin is a Chicago-based national trial practice committed to fighting for victims of negligence, abuse and wrongful death. For 25 years, we have secured more than $850 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients - many for millions of dollars and others record-setting awards.  Our experience ranges from mass shootings, civil rights and police misconduct to medical malpractice, sexual abuse, motor vehicle accidents or workplace injury cases involving individual or institutional negligence. Romanucci & Blandin is a valuable legal resource to individuals and groups of people who have been injured by others’ wrongdoing. Referring attorneys and clients say several factors differentiate our firm: Our record of success, depth of experience, talented and dedicated legal team, tireless preparation and strategic use of communications to fight for the rights of those whose lives have been changed forever. We are different from other personal injury firms in that our work does not stop when a verdict or settlement is secured.  We are often inspired by our clients’ experiences and commit resources to create change in our communities. For more information about Romanucci & Blandin, please visit or call (312) 458-1000.

About Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge

Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge, LLC (“HME”) is a firm of trial lawyers specializing in civil rights, mass tort, and class action cases. The attorneys at HME practice on a nationwide basis in both federal and state courts and are actively involved in some of the largest and most significant cases in the country. HME attorneys are invested in the fight for justice and consistently take on cases to advance civil justice and equal rights. HME prides itself on winning complex cases, fiercely advocating for its clients, and being a driving force behind civil and social change in Chicago and throughout the country. HME’s civil rights practice includes cases involving wrongful convictions, wrongful shootings, police brutality, and unconstitutional policing.  HME has also successfully challenged police policies through civil rights and class action cases in both Illinois in elsewhere. For more information about Hart McLaughlin & Eldridge please visit or call (312) 955-0545.

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