Archive for the ‘Richard's Cases’ Category

Richard Wanke has recently submitted a Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court. The appeal filing was due this week after an extension was granted by the Court due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Writ was authored by the defendant pro se, meaning an attorney has not been appointed in this appeal thus far. Due to delays, the Clerk of the Court has indicated that in may be some time before a decision is rendered. The Court has assigned the appeal case number 20 – 5519 and the proceedings can be followed (here) and the Writ of Certiorari can be read here:


• A Writ of Certiorari asks the US Supreme Court to review legal disputes. The US Supreme Court is asked to review a large number of issues but only accepts for review about 1% of the cases submitted to it. The chance of Richard Wanke’s (or any defendant’s) Writ of Certiorari being accepted by the US Supreme Court is miniscule. While there are many issues of appeal in most criminal cases, the courts work to narrow review down to only a few issues in each case. A Writ of Certiorari is really the “Hail Mary” of the criminal appeal process and the last stage of trying to appeal issues present in court records. Most criminal appeals don’t win at this point but at the next stage, in a Post-Conviction Petition where the defendant, for the first time, has the chance to raise the issues which are NOT documented in the case record but which probably most directly resulted in the conviction.


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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.

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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;;@KevinMHaas


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This article is substantially just a reprint of the same information the Rockford Register-Star prints on each anniversary of the murder of Greg Clark. The authorities put out the hint that they are confident that they have the right individual targeted in their investigation and that they simply are tightening up the evidence in the case before they arrest the suspect.

In reality, we know that the authorities don’t hold off waiting to arrest someone when they feel they have sufficient evidence of complicity in a crime. Saying they have a suspect when the evidence is not sufficient to connect the suspect to the crime is always a face-saving tactic, particularly when the investigation is not being worked for other angles and possibilities.

It it too bad that the RRStar and bereaved family members are simply accepting what the authorities claim. The RRStar should either investigate this story in depth from a new and broader perspective (we are sure that Clark faced threats from a few clients and that there were other security threats in his neighborhood) or join the family in pushing for a new, unbiased reinvestigation by police or an outside source.

We are just as interested in this happening, because, apparently, it will be necessary for someone else to solve this homicide and product the suspect to the police before they will consider other options. And otherwise, the longer this case pends out, the more likely it is, in this case as in others, that the authorities will simply stoop to manufacture the evidence they think they require. That will resolve nothing, and is exactly what causes wrongful convictions.


By Corina Curry RRSTAR.COM

ROCKFORD — A blizzard dumping historic amounts of snow across the city. Government offices, including the courthouse, shutting down because of the inclement weather. The buzz of snowblowers in neighborhoods across the city.

All stood as eerie reminders this week of a shooting three years ago that took the life of a local attorney.

Gregory H. Clark, 60, was killed Feb. 6, 2008, while pushing a snowblower on the sidewalk around his home in the 1700 block of Oak Forest Drive. Police said a gunman jumped out of a van, shot Clark several times in the back and jumped back into the van, which sped off.

It was just before 2 p.m. The Winnebago County Courthouse, where Clark mainly worked as a defense attorney, was closed because of a heavy snowfall.

Later that day, police arrested two people — housemates Richard E. Wanke, one of Clark’s clients, and Diane Chavez.

While prosecutors publicly called both people of interest in the homicide investigation, neither was charged with Clark’s death at the time and that has not changed in three years.

No one else has been charged, either — leaving the mysterious midday attack on an unarmed attorney clearing snow in front of his house one of the community’s most-puzzling unsolved murder cases.

“This time of year is difficult,” said Bart Henbest, Clark’s business partner and son-in-law. “Anytime there’s a bad snowstorm. It brings back memories.”

via Investigation goes on 3 years after Rockford lawyer’s shooting death – Rockford, IL – Rockford Register Star.