Archive for the ‘High profile criminal defense’ Category


Richard’s case was set for jury trial today, but really stood little chance of going forward. The State became aware that one of it’s expert witnesses who lives out of state is unable to appear at trial now in November due to her medical condition. It is a general prerequisite in criminal trials that witnesses testify at trial in-person, because all defendants have the legal right to face their accusers and cross-examine them in-person. Judge Collins knows this and does not want to allow anything wrong to happen in Richard’s case which can be reversed later on appeal.  The State tried to argue that with modern technology, the witness could appear via Skype, but no Illinois caselaw supports this, so Collins was forced, once again, to reset the trial date. Any trial delay, like this which is caused by the State is usually assessed against the State’s deadline to bring someone to trial in a timely manner, but Collins assessed the delay to Richard instead.  However, the State lost in it’s attempt to have her to reschedule the trial to Feb 6, 2016. It will now instead begin on February 21, 2016, barring the occurrence of any other delays.

A number of issues still remain to be decided by Judge Collins anyways concerning what evidence will be allowed to be presented by each side and how the evidence will be presented. Any trial delay now is minor considering, it took the State years to charge this case in the first place. This delay does however, give the defense additional time now to prepare it’s witnesses and evidence and hopefully procure some expert testimony on Richard’s behalf. Richard’s attorneys have cited a lack of time in which to do this and this delay should now take away that excuse.


Decatur – Today Illinois Supreme Court Chief Justice, Rita B. Garman, announced that news cameras are permitted in Illinois courtrooms.   The decision comes after a four year pilot project which allowed media cameras in certain courtrooms on an experimental basis.   Macon County State’s Attorney, Jay Scott, says he’s not a big fan of the Extended Media Coverage or (EMC).   “I really wasn’t in favor of it when they came out with the idea of cameras in the courtroom,” says Scott. “After doing the one trial that’s been televised in Macon County it’s like we didn’t even know the cameras were there.”   Scott says that he thinks the cameras could create an uncomfortable atmosphere for witnesses.   “I think is some cases you’re going to have people not wanting to come to court to testify,” says Scott. “I think in those situations when you’re dealing with very dangerous criminals that are on trial it could have an intimidating effect on witnesses.”   According to the Illinois Supreme Court, the continued goal of promoting transparency, accountability and accessibility to the court system is why cameras were implemented in courtrooms.   Only 15 judicial circuits in the state of Illinois have been approved to use cameras in courtrooms. Those circuits that have not joined will not be forced to do so.   Chief Judge of the Sixth Judicial Court in Illinois, Dan Flannell, says that Macon County has been a part of the pilot project and will now be grandfathered in with the new policy to continue to have EMC in the courtrooms.

Source: Illinois Supreme Court adopts permanent policy for Extended Media Coverage in courtrooms | NowDecatur


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Covid has increased inmate release from jails and prisons only a little. Much remains to be done to correct conditions inside and to improve medical care. To access our page regarding current information for Coronavirus in our jails and prisons, please follow and click the red link here>>

IDOC INMATE EARLY RELEASE AGENCY PAGE and review the posts which follow below

The case information about Richard Wanke is password protected. Please email us at freerichardwanke@gmail.com in order to gain access to the information. Please feel free to add your comments as you read. 

Richard Wanke was found guilty at a jury trial in March 2017, and given a natural life sentence. He is presently at the Menard Correctional Center in Chester, IL.

Richard’s conviction was upheld by the IL Appellate Court in November 2019. His initial Post-Conviction petition was recently accepted in Winnebago County Court. A thorough of evidence shows there is NO basis for Richard’s conviction. Richard will need assistance by conflict-free counsel (which Winnebago County, IL is unlikely to provide him with) to proceed on his post-conviction petition. We ask that you please lend any pro bono assistance to Richard or consider a court appointment. We will sincerely welcome your help. Please please contact us at freerichardwanke@gmail.com, or directly at (779) 348 – 2487. Other interested parties who can help publicize Richard’s case may also contact us via freerichardwanke@gmail.com. We also welcome Facebook readers of richardwanke and injustice everywhere to this site. 

Attention: Like so many other wrongfully convicted persons in IL, Richard Wanke, now has to prove his innocence after conviction. It’s very difficult for those who are innocent and wrongfully convicted to overturn convictions. For this reason, to help publicize their individual efforts and to help educate the public about the extent of wrongful convictions in IL, we’ve set up a Facebook page at the address below to post articles, podcasts, and discussions about wrongful convictions. We also welcome your participation on our Facebook page:

Talk: Suspect Convictions, at https://www.facebook.com/nolawforinnocence/

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!