Fred Hampton Jr. comes to Urbana to witness the Patrick Thompson Trial Wednesday

Wednesday, Feb. 7, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Champaign County Courthouse, downtown Urbana, Main and Vine, Courtroom A Press conference at noon lunch break with Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. at the Independent Media Center (old Urbana post office behind the Courthouse) On Wednesday, February 7, a judge will hear testimony from several witnesses in an attempt to gain Patrick Thompson a new trial. In July 2006, Thompson was found guilty of home invasion and sexual abuse. Thompson’s new attorney, Robert Kirchner, is claiming that Thompson received ineffective counsel and has not had a fair trial. On January 5, 2007, six witnesses appeared in the first day of the post-trial hearings. This Wednesday, Thompson’s former attorney Harvey Welch will take the stand, along with Thompson himself, the accuser, and others. We will be holding a press conference at the noon lunch break with Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr., prison activist and founder of the Prisoners of Conscience Committee (P.O.C.C.). Patrick Thompson is the co-founder of V.E.Y.A. (Visionaries and Educators of Youth and Adults) and one of the videographers who created a controversial documentary in 2004 called Citizen’s Watch. The documentary exposed the unfair treatment of the black community by local police in Champaign and Urbana. In August 2004, Thompson was charged with felony eavesdropping, charges which were later dropped. The same month he was also accused by a woman of home invasion and sexual abuse. Thompson’s supporters believe the two incidents are related and are retribution for his political activism. Fred Hampton, Jr. is a grassroots activist who has worked inside and outside of the prison system for change. He is the son of Fred Hampton, Sr., head of the Black Panther Party in Chicago who was murdered by Chicago Police on December 4, 1969. Just weeks later, Fred Hampton, Jr. was born into the struggle and has carried on his father’s organizing. In 1990, he became President of the National People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (N.P.D.U.M.). While incarcerated for nine years on an alleged arson, he founded the Prisoners of Conscience Committee (P.O.C.C.). Since his release in 2001, he has become one of the foremost fighters against America’s prisons, what he calls our modern day “concentration camps.” For more information see “More Testimony Comes to Light in Post-trial Motion for Patrick Thompson” at ucimc.org. *Please be patient with the court police, as we have seen an increase of enforcing quiet in the courtroom. If late, you may have to wait for a recess to enter the courtroom.

Day in court

Everything went good in court today. We are all hopeful Judge Clem with throw this baby out and the bath water. The PT case should never have gone this far. Now is the time to end this fiasco. The judge will return with a decision in a month or two. Chicago's streets were a mess and Chairman Fred couldn't make it down. Maybe for the final decision. There will be a full report tonight. Peace, BD

STAY STRONG!

Second Hearing in Post-Trial Motion for Patrick Thompson By Brian Dolinar On February 7, 2007, attorneys Robert Kirchner and Ruth Wyman called five people to the stand in attempt to further build the case that Patrick Thompson has received ineffective counsel and has not been given a fair trial. In July 2006, Thompson was found guilty by a jury with no evidence and no witnesses. He is now facing 6-30 years in prison. After the guilty verdict, Thompson fired his attorney Harvey Welch and hired Robert Kirchner, who filed a motion for a re-trial. On January 4, six witnesses testified and a second hearing on February 7 brought several others to the stand. They included: the accuser, a co-worker at Provena Bessie Sissney (previously Bessie Ann Slack), Urbana Officer Duane Maxey, Thompson’s previous attorney Harvey Welch, and Patrick Thompson himself. In the courtroom were 20-30 of Patrick Thompson’s supporters, although several late-comers were kept out of the courtroom due to the enforcement of more restrictive courtroom policies. Thanks go out to students from the STOP coalition on campus for coming down to the courthouse. Also in the courtroom was Randy Rosenbaum, in charge of the Public Defender’s office, who watched on the entire day. Mary Schenk, writer for the News-Gazette, sat in the front row and nodded off to sleep occasionally during the afternoon. The accuser was supported by her mother and several women from the Rape Crisis Center. The Accuser To start the day off, Special Prosecutor Michael Vujovich had attempted to quash a subpoena served to the accuser. It was rejected by Judge Clem because it was filed too late. The accuser then had to take the stand. The accuser recounted the events of August 24, 2004, the day of the alleged incident. She again stated she arrived to work late between 7:10 and 7:15. This is in conflict with Tarrence Ware’s statements on January 4 that the accuser was at work before 7 a.m. and was laughing and joking like nothing happened. Kirchner then asked the accuser if she had told Urbana Officer Hediger that she had “screamed” and “yelled” to fight off her assailant. She said, “Yes.” Kirchner then turned to the events of August 24, 2004. He asked the accuser if it was true that she told Urbana Officer Michael Hediger that Thompson had followed her from the laundry room where she was picking up her clothes. The accuser said, “Yes.” This is in direct conflict with the accuser’s other statements that she was first approached in her apartment. When asked if she was “yelling” and “screaming” after she was allegedly attacked in her apartment, the accuser said “Yes.” When asked if she continued yelling, her answer was “Yes.” Again, this is in contradiction with her testimony during the second trial in July 2006 that she was “not a yeller” and only speaking above her normal voice. No neighbors reported to the police that they heard anything that morning. Vujovich questioned the accuser whether she had been offered any promises by him or by the State’s Attorney for her testimony and she said, “No.” Bessie Ann Slack Next to testify was Bessie Sissney, formerly Bessie Ann Slack. Bessie worked as a secretary at Provena at the time of the alleged incident. She admitted to speaking to Urbana Officer Duane Maxey but says she did not overhear anything between Arlene Medford and the accuser on August 24, 2004. Officer Duane Maxey Urbana Officer Duane Maxey testified that on September 1, 2005 he spoke with Bessie Ann Slack about a conversation she overheard between Arlene Medford and the accuser. Questioned whether he had written in his report whether Bessie Ann Slack had overheard a conversation where the accuser said she was “being cornered in a laundry room,” he said, “Words to that effect, yes.” Questioned whether the location of the encounter was the laundry room, Maxey said, “Yes.” Again, in other testimony the accuser makes no mention of this laundry room encounter and says that the entire encounter occurred in her apartment. Harvey Welch Thompson’s attorney in the second trial, Harvey Welch, was called to testify. [Thompson defended himself in the first trial, July 2005, and hired Welch for the second trial, July 2006.] Kirchner pressed Welch on several issues of his trial strategy. Welch verified that he had been practicing law for 26 years, pursuing criminal work since 1986, and is currently a Public Defender in Ford County. He confirmed that on October 19, 2005 he was hired by Thompson, nine months before the trial. Asked if he was unable to defend Thompson within the given time limit, he said, “No.” Kirchner asked Welch if he was familiar with the original phone call the accuser made to 9-11 and if he knew of the accuser’s claim that her assailant had followed her from the laundry room, he said, “Yes.” Kirchner asked if Welsh had defended cases of home invasion and the answer was, “Yes.” Why then did he not offer defense against home invasion by bringing up the encounter in the laundry room? Welch said these were third-hand statements and he chose not to pursue that line of questioning. Why did he not bring up contradictory statements? Welch said the witnesses also would have made more sexual comments about fondling and that would be bad. Welch agreed that the accuser’s credibility was essential. But he could not answer why he did not pursue the numerous inconsistent statements. Asked if he talked with Arlene Medford or Bessie Ann Slack, Welch answered “No.” In the January 4 post-trial hearing, Thompson spoke about a finger splint. When Welch was asked if he had known about such a splint, Welch said “Yes, he made me aware of it.” Welch says Thompson told him the splint was removable so he did not pursue it. “It would do as much harm as good,” Welch said. Asked if he was aware that the accuser never mentioned the splint, Welch acknowledged she never did. Kirchner asked Welch if he knew about Thompson’s previous convictions of drug trafficking and he said, “Yes.” Welch was asked if he ever filed a motion of eliminate to prevent prior charges from being admitted and he said, “No.” Welch admitted that because of the events of the first trial, he did not pursue certain strategies during the second trial. Welch also said he had not spoken to Patrick’s wife Maria Thompson, but then said that he had talked to the two of them together. Kirchner asked if he had spoken to Maria about the morning of August 24 and whether she had an alibi. Welch said, “No.” Asked when the first time he knew about Maria Thompson’s whereabouts, Welch said the first day of the trial. Welch confirmed that Vujovich had no objection to calling Maria Thompson to the stand but said, “It would be more harmful than helpful.” Welch said an alibi is the last resort in a defense, especially when from family or a friend. Welch was asked if he ever questioned Tarrence Ware and he replied, “No.” Ware testified on January 4 that the accuser was on time at work on August 24, 2004 and was acting normal. Welch said he did not find Ware’s testimony credible. Welch could not explain why the testimony of other co-workers the prosecution had brought was admissible, but Ware’s was not credible. Welch also tried to explain why he did not call several other people, such as a babysitter who the accuser spoke to and saw before work, or the accuser’s boyfriend Anthony Bates, who the accuser says told her she should call the police. Kirchner then questioned Welch about why he did not raise more objections in the trial. Welch had only raised 2-3 objections during the entire trial. Welch said it was a matter of style. Vujovich cross-examined Welch about his 26 years of experience. Welch named off over a dozen counties he had worked in and the countless number cases he had tried. While Vujovich was trying to establish Welch’s expertise, it became clear throughout the day that Welch handles so many cases that he cannot dedicate his full attention to any one case. Like many local lawyers in Champaign County, they take on too many cases, do the absolute minimum of work, and then cash their checks. Patrick Thompson Patrick Thompson took the stand for the first time and was questioned by attorney Ruth Wyman. Judge Clem again stated how this post-trial motion was “something of an unusual posture” but allowed to proceedings to continue. Wyman asked Thompson if Welch ever asked about what happened on August 24, 2006 and Thompson said, “No.” Welch had said that Thompson would do a good job testifying because of how well he had defended himself in the first trial. Asked why he did not then testify, Thompson said he was worried about his prior convictions. Asked why he did not testify in the first trial, Thompson said he was not a legal expert and did not know how to testify in a pro se case. Additionally, prosecutor Elizabeth Dobson had a second charge from another man named Patrick Thompson in Alabama which she had threatened to use against him. Thompson’s supporters say that Elizabeth Dobson had played a role in both the charges of felony eavesdropping and the charges of sexual abuse and home invasion, all of which transpired in August 2004. They say this is evidence that the State was using the courts to put a stop to Thompson’s political activism. Wyman asked Thompson about the events on the morning of August 24, 2004. Thompson said he awoke at before 6 a. m., showered, spoke to his wife, and was hurrying to get to Parkland College, where he is a student, to beat the lines at the college bookstore because it was the first day or two of classes. He denied ever leaving the apartment or ever having contact with the accuser. Thompson then explained why he did not call his wife, Maria Thompson, to testify in the first trial when he defended himself. He said he did not want his wife cross-examined by Vujovich because it would allow him to delve into their relationship and ask about personal matters. Wyman asked if this was the same reason she did not testify in the second trial and he said, “Yes.” Thompson said that Welch had never told him about “spousal privilege,” the case law for blocking this line of questioning. Thompson explained the finger splint he was wearing at the time of the alleged incident and said he did not take it off in the shower or at night and kept it tightly wrapped in tape. He confirmed that he had told Welch about the splint, but said he was never asked anything more about it. Special Prosecutor Vujovich then cross-examined Thompson. Although he was clearly agitated by Vujovich asking him several of the same questions repeatedly, Thompson remained calm, cool, and collected. Wyman then clarified with Thompson, if it were not for his prior conviction, would he have testified in the first trial? He said “Yes.” If Welch would have filed a motion eliminae to prevent the prosecution from raising his prior convictions, would he have testified in the second trial? He said “Yes.” Attorneys Kirchner and Wyman have 14 days to complete a written final argument and Vujovich has 14 days to respond. After those are submitted, Judge Clem will set a date and deliver a decision that will either send Thompson to prison or reverse the guilty verdict. Lastly, due to the poor road conditions in Chicago, Chairman Fred Hampton, Jr. could not make it to town for the scheduled press conference. Yet he may be able to come down for a future date. His final message to myself and to the activist community was, “STAY STRONG.”

a brief note

I wanted to thank Brian for this thorough and informative report of yesterday's events, and also to add a little note. In the first trial, Patrick defended himself with no legal experience, no law degree and with only truth on his side and managed to convince a jury that they could not decide based on the lack of evidence etc. The trial resulted in a hung-jury, which is why there was a second trial. This is a sad testament to the skills and motivations of Harvey Welch... who claims 26 years of legal experience and legal training on his side. It should have been an in and out, no doubt left in the minds of the jurors, situation. Welch failed Patrick, as he has surely failed others. In addition, he not only failed Patrick, he failed his family, his friends, his supporters and the entire court system as it is supposed to work. Unfortunately people like Welch are one of the main reasons that the court system doesn't work and as a result provides injustice, where justice is the goal that is claimed. Patrick, Maria and their family have been fighting this ridiculous case for three years now, with the constant reminder of Patrick's precarious freedom hanging over their heads. This is no freedom. Yet they have still managed to create a tutoring-mentoring program for at-risk youth which continues to grow and succeed. Just imagine what they would be able to do if they were not consumed with battling the injustices they currently face! Nicole Lamers

??

The 21st of February has passed. What are the results now?

Patrick Thompson - post trial motion

We have submitted a written argument in support of the post trial motion previously filed. Unless extended, the state has 2 weeks to respond. Thereafter Judge Clem will rule - either orally or in writing as he chooses. No further Court dates are set. None are anticipated prior to his ruling. There is no time frame within which a decision must be rendered. The arguments are matters of public record and can be disseminated to those who are interested. Ruth Wyman, myself, Sam Anderson, Nia, and Kirsten - my entire office- devoted an extraordinary amount of time, and our "hearts and souls" in making the best possible case and arguments on Patrick's behalf. We believe in his innocence and that he did not receive a fair trial. His future, and that of his family, remains unresolved. Your continued support, involvement and interest in his case is important. Bob Kirchner

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