Archive for the ‘Attorney needed: high-profile case’ Category


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The Richard Wanke prosecution clock ticks on for his April 2014 demand for a speedy trial.  Yet his case has been delayed and continued due to “inclement weather”, the illness of his assigned Public Defender, and now again, for personal reasons by the judge who has set the next court date for Friday, February 6, 2015, at 1:30 pm in courtroom 478 of the Winnebago County Courthouse, located at 400 West State Street, in Rockford, IL.

This rescheduled hearing on the disqualification of the Winnebago County Public Defenders office has languished for more than 60 days as Richard’s conflicted counsel walks the fine line between advocating for his offices’s removal from Richard’s representation to protecting it from having to air dirty laundry in public (such as the details of its own involvement in it’s client’s arrest). This divided loyalty lies at the crux of this Friday’s hearing.

Karen Sorensen, the head Public Defender of Winnebago County, withdrew from the case in 2008 citing conflicts-of- interest, and other experienced public defenders who knew the murder victim have also stepped back from the case. Attorney Gregory Clark, was highly respected and well-connected locally. Inadvertent coincidence or not, the wisdom of  scheduling this hearing, critical to decide the very constitutional direction of the defendant’s case, on the exact day of attorney Clark’s death, seven years ago is questionable; at least it is to this defendant.

As Richard Wanke states, “I have been held responsible and without bail in some sense since 2008 in this case and my charging in April 2014, was just the formality of my on-going ordeal. And, so far, while I have also filed a speedy trial demand and repeatedly requested conflict-free counsel, I have yet to receive either. And, somehow, I feel that I am not the only Winnebago County defendant exposed to an unusual degree of jeopardy in the county legal process.”

 

 


Defense: Prosecutors intentionally misled jury on Richard Wanke murder charges

By Kevin Haas

Rockford Register Star

Posted May. 30, 2014 @ 1:45 pm

Updated at 3:39 PM

ROCKFORD — Richard Wanke’s defense says prosecutors intentionally misled a grand jury in order to secure murder charges against him in the death of attorney Gregory Clark.

Wanke’s attorney, Sami Azhari, filed a motion to dismiss the charges today during an appearance around 1:30 p.m. before Judge Rosemary Collins. The motion claims that prosecutors led a grand jury to falsely think gun residue was found on Wanke’s clothing.

State’s Attorney Joe Bruscato said his office will not comment on pending litigation.

Clark, Wanke’s lawyer in a previous burglary case, was shot in the back on Feb. 6, 2008, while clearing snow from a sidewalk in front of his house. Wanke was out of jail awaiting sentencing on burglary charges at the time of the shooting. He has denied any involvement in Clark’s death. Wanke is currently being held in Winnebago County Jail.

Six years after the shooting — on April 16 — prosecutors sought first-degree murder charges against Wanke in a hearing before the grand jury. It was during testimony from Rockford Police Sgt. Kurt Whisenand, the state’s only witness at the hearing, that prosecutors misled the jury, according to Azhari’s motion.

A portion of the transcript of the grand jury testimony, which was included in Azhari’s motion, shows that Deputy State’s Attorney Jim Brun asked Whisenand whether a bag of clothing found during the investigation had been tested for gunshot residue. It was, Whisenand said. Brun then asked Whisenand whether he was familiar with a Illinois State Police Crime Lab report that “indicated they did, in fact, detect particles characteristic of background samples on the clothing in that bag.” Whisenand affirmed that background particles had been found.

The problem, Azhari says, is that the background particles are not actually evidence of gunshot residue. But he says Brun led the jury to believe they were.

“He’s insinuating that the background particles are gunshot residue and, in fact, they are not,” Azhari said. “Background particles are just natural environment particles.

“If they tested my hands or your hands, or my clothes or your clothes right now — and we’ve never fired a gun — we would have background particles.”

When a grand jury member later asked Brun for a clarification, Brun said, according to the transcript: “There were particles — the way the lab report and the testimony was presented, there were particles consistent with gunshot residue.”

Azhari said prosecutors had not presented anything new in the six years since the shooting

Page 2 of 2 – “There’s been no new evidence that I’m aware of in the 967 pages of discovery that I’ve reviewed that has anything that’s come up since 2008,” he said.

Kevin Haas: 815-987-1410; khaas@rrstar.com;@KevinMHaas

via http://www.rrstar.com/article/20140530/NEWS/140539935/


Since 2008, the murder of Attorney Gregory Clark has been the single highest-profile unsolved murder in Winnebago County, IL and an overall priority case statewide. Richard Wanke’s prosecution will now become the highest-profile criminal case prosecution in Winnebago County and be followed closely by regional, if not national media. It is doubtful that Richard Wanke has any chance of receiving an impartial trial in the Rockford community as he has been tried in the local media, in community electoral politics, and in the legal community now since 2008.

Richard needs top-level, competent legal trial representation. He has past conflicts with the Winnebago County Public Defender’s office, so it will not be able to represent him. The conflict counsel representation available by Winnebago County is extremely limited and likely conflicted as well. It is critical for Richard to immediately find unbiased, conflict-free representation, probably from outside the Rockford legal community.

Richard Wanke is not a violent criminal. He is not a habitual criminal. He has no gang or criminal affiliations. He is an intelligent, articulate, responsible, caring, and giving, human being who is now in danger of spending the rest of his life behind bars due to political pressure perhaps, but certainly a rush to judgment by the authorities. He will be an exceptional and cooperative client. He has already served a 14 year sentence as a result of suspicion from this murder. He has survived the current overcrowded and inhumane conditions within the IL Department of Corrections, including unwarranted physical assaults. He is knowledgeable and knows everything what is at stake here.

We appeal to the legal community at-large on Richard’s behalf.

Richard desperately needs an experienced private criminal defense trial attorney or law firm willing to defend him to avoid the further injustice of spending the rest of his life behind bars. We know that this is a financially rougher time for attorneys in general, but we hope that Richard can find an committed attorney to undertake his case because his is the only true protection the criminal justice system has available to offer.

If there is the possibility that you can offer any assistance, please call Diane at (815) 980-6582, immediately! Thank-you!