Richard’s Appeal Briefs Regarding 2006 Laptop Burglary Case

The State alleges that Richard Wanke killed his attorney because he lost at a jury trial and he was upset with him. That is a very simplistic rationale anyone with common sense. Are there defendants who lose it at trial and who go insane? Sure, but those are either individuals who are not very intelligent, are hot-headed, impatient, who can’t handle stress and who generally act out in their normal lives or else people who have been in positions of control in their lives and for the first time have lost that power, want to blame others, and who feel resentment and anger for being made powerless.

Richard Wanke was too well familiar with the criminal justice system to be one of those who would even consider much less kill attorney Greg Clark. Richard Wanke had been kicked around by it enough for years to know that fighting it by killing anyone in it doesn’t solve anything and only seals one’s fate for life. Greg Clark wasn’t a problem to Richard. Greg Clark wasn’tPoor representation at trial was the norm that Richard experienced from  1991 – 2006, and even though they lost at trial, Greg Clark represented Richard much better than any of his prior trial attorneys did.

Richard’s DeKalb County Public Defender in 1995, hardly met with him, never investigated his burglary case or spoke with any of his witnesses. That attorney only agreed to present one of seven of Richard’s witnesses cold at trial because Richard physically collected and drove them to trial. Richard served 3 years for that conviction. His Winnebago County appointed attorney told Richard pretrial in 1997, that he “would be a lion” at trial. Instead he was a mouse who hardly squeaked or exerted himself. Richard had to appeal that case up to the Appellate Court to get it remanded back for a second trial. The case was finally dismissed in 2008. Both of these attorneys as well as the five others who represented him during these years are all alive and well despite all the reasons they ever gave Richard to be dissatisfied with their representation of him.  Richard simply learned as most defendants do that, when you lack money to hire your own attorney and have to rely upon the Public Defender to represent you, chances are you will not be well-represented because the office lacks the money and time to represent most people well. The system is pretty impersonal in how it treats defendants and deprives them of their rights, and it does not take defendants long to learn this. They may enter the system with high hopes and expectations for their first case, but they learn pretty quickly that most attorneys are friendly at first, but they want you to plead; will pressure you to plead out quick and easy, and that if you push for trial against their wishes (which is most times) they tend to short-shift you in effort. Your only recourse is to do what Richard did: take your lumps over time and appeal them. Winning one such appeal only gave Richard more motivation to continue doing this.

Richard was also smart enough to know that the worse time to kill your attorney is just before sentencing when you need him to advocate for you. Sentencing is not the time to switch horses, and defendants want someone well acquainted with them to present their side at sentencing, You know that killing an attorney while he is still working on your case will neither dismiss it or reduce the penalty you face. It will instead motivate the State and system to treat you with the utmost severity and give you a much longer sentence than you already face. That’s why Richard served a 14 year sentence in the 2006 case of the attempted theft of a laptop computer. He wasn’t really sentenced for that offense. Instead the system and the court threw the book at him just on the suspicion that he was involved in Clark’s murder and gave him the longest sentence they could.

Richard Wanke and Greg Clark disagreed in 06 CF 405. First they disagreed on whether to go to trial or to plead out as Clark wanted. Then, they disagreed on what to do at trial. When trial came though, they slowly came to work together to present it. The trial presentation was not as thorough as it could have been if they’d agreed earlier and maybe this is why they lost, but Clark and Richard were both calm, not angry afterwards. They had gotten along well for six years before trial and were able to push past the trial. They were working to put together a motion for retrial when Clark was killed.

While the 6th amendment to the US constitution guarantees some degree of representation to a defendant, the level of representation one receives does not protect one from being unfairly convicted. It is very difficult to successfully challenge a conviction post-trial, and most prison inmates end up doing so on their own because very few resources are available to assist them in Illinois unlike some other states.

Richard now has a post-conviction petition currently pending in the IL Winnebago County Court challenging his jury conviction in a 2006 burglary case involving the alleged attempted theft of a laptop computer (which the suspect never really left the premises of). 

Richard’s Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the US Supreme Court was denied December 12, 2011. His Petition for Leave to Appeal to the IL Supreme Court was denied May 25, 2011. He filed a subsequent “Motion for Reconsideration” which was also denied July 28, 2011. Richard presented two main issues on appeal to the IL Supreme Court: that his trial court should have evaluated an “ineffective assistance of counsel” claim on his behalf at several different points before trial (particularly when his attorney caused him to lose the right to knowingly consider a plea deal), and that he was wrongly and improperly sentenced to an extended prison sentence because the sentencing judge and all the attorneys apparently did not know or chose to ignore how to properly interpret the law on deciding what his dates of conviction are.

More than three and a half years after first filing his post-conviction petition on his own (pro se) in court, Richard finally has competent legal representation to help him flesh out his petition and advance his claims thru the court system. Judge Joseph McGraw found that he may have a “gist of a constitutional claim” and after first appointing him several local court “conflict” attorneys who did nothing on his case (notably local attorneys, David Carter. and Michael Phillips), Rock Island county “conflict” counsel, Nathan Nieman, has stepped up to accept appointment to represent Richard on his petition. Nieman is a conflict-counsel and private attorney from Moline, IL. He has to travel two hours each way to see Richard and to attend court when representing Richard. 

Nate Nieman is a good and conscientious attorney and Richard is very grateful that he was appointed to his case. Attorney Nieman has worked hard to assemble the missing evidence that previous attorney had claimed no longer existed or were unwilling to even try to get. He and Richard communicate well and are working together to revise Richard’s petition and  file it this Spring.

The information below documents each of the legal steps Richard negotiated on his own after the IL Appellate Court denied his appeal in this burglary case. In order to appeal further, Richard had to go on and represent himself pro se in court in the following filings. This process was very educational for Richard. It was only after he had to draw up his own filings and had access to the full record and transcripts of his case, trial, and sentencing hearing that he was able to finally recognize what had actually happened in his criminal case; how the court handled it and how Greg Clark failed to adequately represent his interests and protect him at critical points along the way. It was only while he was sitting in IDOC that he learned that Clark, for example, called a court date without his knowledge in order to advise the court of a serious mistake he had made. Richard did not know or fully understand most of this at trial in 2007 or in 2008. The legal process to trial is complex and confusing, and it was only later when he formulated the following arguments in Richard’s mind that the information finally came together.

Richard Wanke’s Request to US Supreme Court for Extension of Time to file Writ of Certiorari– submitted August 13, 2011, and time extension was granted to October 22, 2011.
Richard Wanke’s Motion to IL Supreme Court for Reconsideration– denied
Richard Wanke’s Pro Se, Petition for Leave to Appeal to IL Supreme Court-submited March 7, 2011, & denied May 25, 2011.


Richard Wanke’s Pro Se, IL Appellate Petition For Rehearing, submitted November 15, 2010, & denied January 4, 2011.


Richard petitioned the IL Supreme Court to hear his appeal presenting two main arguments to the IL Supreme Court: that his trial court should have evaluated an “ineffective assistance of counsel” claim on his behalf at several different points before trial (particularly when his attorney caused him to lose the right to knowingly consider a plea deal), and that he was wrongly and improperly sentenced to an extended prison sentence because the sentencing judge and all the attorneys apparently did not know or chose to ignore how to properly interpret the law on deciding what his dates of conviction are.
Excerpts below regarding the Attorney/Client relationship are from Website of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP (law firm)

“One of the basic concepts of the practice of law is that the client is entitled to be represented by counsel of his or her choice. It follows that a client may terminate his attorney at will, and with or without cause. Herbster v. North American Co., 150 Ill.App.3d 21, 501 N.E.2d 343 (1986). This rule is deeply rooted in the personal nature of the attorney-client relationship and in the need to avoid friction and distrust between the lawyer and client. The client’s right to terminate also includes the right to substitute other counsel. See, e.g., Savich v. Savich, 12 Ill.2d 454, 147 N.E.2d 85 (1957)…

…The right to choose counsel is not without limitation, however, particularly in the field of litigation. The client’s latitude in selecting, discharging or substituting counsel is not “so absolute that its exercise may not be denied where it will unduly prejudice the other party or interfere with the administration of justice.” People v. Franklin, 415 Ill. 514, 516-17, 114 N.E.2d 661, 663 (1953). Thus, once a trial has commenced, substitution or withdrawal may be denied in the absence of some “valid reason.” See, e.g., Marriage of Milovich, 105 Ill.App.3d 596, 434 N.E.2d 881 (1982)…

…interference with the relationship between an attorney and his client may be actionable, even if the relationship is terrainable at will. See, e.g., Herbster; LaRocco, supra…An attorney’s right to withdraw from the attorney-client relationship is somewhat restricted by the lawyer’s special position…an attorney representing a client before a tribunal must obtain permission from the tribunal to withdraw. ”–avoiding-malpractice-when-the-attorney-client-relationship-ends-05-01-2000/


  1. It is authors like yourself, those who are willing to contribute ideas on the internet, that deserve to be commended. You definately have acquired experience with tactfully presenting challenging subject matter. Brilliant point.


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