Patrick Thompson’s Motion For Retrial This Week

Patrick Thompson’s Motion For Retrial This Week Community Court Watch calls everyone to the courtroom: Thursday, January 4th at 9 a.m. in courtroom A Patrick Thompson is one of the videographers that created the controversial documentary, Citizen’s Watch in 2004. In July, Thompson was found guilty of home invasion and sexual abuse, charges we believe to be retaliation for his political activism. Thompson is facing 6-30 years in prison. This for an alleged crime for which there are no witnesses and no physical evidence. Attorney Bob Kirchner has filed a motion for re-trial. On Thursday, Thompson will either be granted a new trial or be sent to prison. It is only due to public pressure that Thompson remains a free man. Help Community Court Watch put eyes on this case of legal in-justice. Also, join us Wednesday, January 3rd at 11 a.m. for the trial of Sgt. Myers, accused of torturing inmates with Tasers in the Champaign County jail.

Thompson trial

For more on the Thompson trial read "Continuance Granted in Trial of Black Civil Rights Activist" and for a full account of the July trial read "Patrick Thompson Trial Underway," both at ucimc.org. BD

Court Watch dates

Several important dates for Community Court Watch this week: Wednesday, Jan. 3 at 11 am in Courtroom A. -Sgt. Myers is expected to finalize plea bargain which would involve dropping aggravated battery and obstruction of justice charges and accepting a guilty plea of disorderly conduct and a two year conditional discharge. Thursday, Jan. 4 at 9 am in Courtroom A. -Patrick Thompson’s lawyer Bob Kirchner has filed a motion for retrial that will be decided upon. Friday, Jan. 5 at 9 am in Courtroom C. -Family of Lowell Helm questions fair representation by attorney Ed Piraino, known as a local “plea doctor.”

It makes me wonder why Helm

It makes me wonder why Helm would hire a private attorney and then question "fair representation". RE: HELM LOWELL A HNL/LSO/NS Appearance of the People by Mr. Lozar. HNL/LSO/NS Appearance of the deft. by attorney HNL/LSO/NS Janie Miller-Jones. Cause is called for plea. HNL/LSO/NS Suggestion to the Court that the defendant is HNL/LSO/NS seeking to retain private counsel and requests HNL/LSO/NS a continuance. No objection to the motion by HNL/LSO/NS the People. Motion allowed. Cause is re-allotted HNL/LSO/NS for the pre-trial of 11/21/06 at 9:00 a.m. in HNL/LSO/NS Courtroom C. Deft. is ordered to appear that date HNL/LSO/NS and he is again admonished as to his failure to HNL/LSO/NS appear. Deft.'s bond is to continue. 11-06-06 CRIMINL/MD Supplemental Discovery on file. 11-20-06 HNL/LSO HNL/LSO RE: HELM LOWELL A HNL/LSO Substitution of Counsel on file and approved. HNL/LSO Appointment of the Public Defender is vacated HNL/LSO and the Court allows Mr. Piraino to enter his HNL/LSO appearance as counsel for the deft. See Order. HNL/LSO Cause remains allotted for pre-trial on 11/21/06 HNL/LSO at 11:00 a.m. in Courtroom C. 11-21-06 HNL/LSO RE: LOWELL HELM

Because Helm Isn't Getting To See the Evidence

The issue with the Lowell Helm case is complicated, and it's too early to tell what is going on, but there are some smelly fish in the water in the Helm case. What's particularly disturbing is that Piraino won't let the defendant see the discovery against him. Piraino says he has seen the discovery. Well, perhaps the paper version created by the sherriff's department- that version Lowell Helm may have seen. But the paper version of the case is not all the evidence against him, and Piraino knows it. If Lowell Helm wants to see all the evidence against him, he has to go to trial, according to Piraino. That's ridiculous. Piraino claims a recent Supreme Court case doesn't allow all the evidence to be seen before trial out of concern for protecting the identities of informants. This goes against common sense since if the defendant did what the Rantoul and County Sherriff's offices claim, then the defendant has already interacted with the informant and already knows the informant's identity. In the Lowell Helm case there also seems to be a retaliation against the defendant for not cooperating with authorities to be an informant. When Helm refused to be their stool pigeon, Helm found himself being arrested for drug dealing when there were no drugs found in his house. Also disturbing is that Piraino claims Helm wants to plea bargain, but the understanding of the family is that Helm does not want to plea and that's why they paid money to hire Piraino. The family also alleges that the police are falsifying police reports, attributing comments to people that they never said. So Community Courtwatch is wondering what is going on in Rantoul. Word on the street is that Rantoul police are the worst at being thugs and there are some outrageous police procedures being practiced to the north. So we shall see........what's tragic is that whatever is going on, Lowell Helm, arrested at 17 for a stupid residential burglary is entangled in a legal system that wants to take his life away for 20 years now that he is 22 and has 3 children.

Unfortunately there is a

Unfortunately there is a vast amount of case law to support the protection of confidential informants prior to trial. You may not agree with it, but it exists. The defendant cannot have it both ways, disclosure and plea deal. If he really wants to know who turned him in then he will have to go to trial and find out. However, if he really didn't do the crime go to trial. His attorney cannot make him take a plea. It is as simple as standing in front of the judge and saying not guilty, let's go to trial.

Really?

"His attorney cannot make him take the plea." How would you like to have a lawyer who disagrees with your decision to not take the plea, when that lawyer wants you to? What kind of representation at trial do you think you'll get when your lawyer is reluctant to go to trial? Ask those that have been represented by some of the public defenders who have no inclination to really fight hard in court when their client won't take the state's offer. Reluctant lawyers are like car mechanics who don't really want to fix your car. Realize that the vast majority of defendants do accept the plea bargain because they know they did whatever the charge happens to be. So if someone wants to go to trial, it's because they probably didn't do it. We in polite middle class society just can't seem to make the mental leap that sometimes the police cheat, the police lie, the defendant didn't do what they are accused of. Worse, in this cat and mouse game of "We-got-you-on-this,-so-you're- going-to-this-for-us."-world of informants; the facts of a case can be very skewed. Informants have an interest in cooperating with police stories, since the vast majority of them have a case pending or the police are witholding a police report they could file on the informant;.......UNLESS,...the informant does a little testilying in court for the police. How our courts are willing to accept the testimony of a witness with something to gain (lenient treatment for their own case) by telling a story is beyond the pale when it comes to actually finding out what happened on a particular day. Sounds like movie material, doesn't it? And yet, it happens far too frequently. There are rules of discovery and juries sometimes hear that a witness has a case pending. What they are not told is that with a 3-year statute of limitations on most offenses, the witness the jury may be hearing might have a case being held over their head that hasn't been filed yet. Either way, it's bribed testimony, pure and simple. The real mystery is by what criteria do the police decide to go after somebody and then squeeze their friends and associates to help them do it? In Helm's case, a sherriff's deputy seems to have targeted Helm when he wouldn't cooperate with one of their "sting operations". The drug war, poverty and this snitch culture the police have fostered have made the stories we hear in courtrooms very unreliable. But again, polite society just can't imagine this sort of thing since it doesn't happen in Cherry Hills.

Frankly, when a mechanic

Frankly, when a mechanic does not want to work on my car, I don't hire them or at least I find another mechanic. Let me know how that whole argument works out for him, sounds a little weak to me. But then again, what would I know, I probably live in Cherry Hills. BTW, apparently drug court didn't work for Helms the first time, maybe he will find the help he needs now.

Like it or not

Like it or not, we live in a society that says $100 an hour for the lawyer. Poor families don't have the luxury of shopping for another "mechanic" when they become disatisfied. Once they put the retainer down, they are often stuck with the product, despite not knowing what they were getting going in. As for drug court and help in prison....you're joking about drug help in prison, right?

Like it not

And unfortunately there are no lawyers willing to do pro bono work in Champ county.

word?

any word on today's hearing?

Witnesses Appear in Post-trial Motion for Patrick Thompson

A motion for a retrial filed by attorney Robert Kirchner on behalf of Patrick Thompson was heard Thursday, January 5, 2007. Nearly 50 of Thompson’s supporters were in the courtroom. In July 2006, Thompson was found guilty of home invasion and sexual abuse. Thompson is facing 6-30 years for what his supporters believe is retribution for his political activism. Patrick Thompson is one of the videographers that created the controversial documentary Citizen’s Watch in 2004 that exposed the unfair treatment of the black community by local police. The post-trial motion was turned into a trial-within-a-trial by attorney Robert Kirchner and assistant Ruth Wyman. Ineffective counsel was the underlying theme of Kirchner’s lengthy motion for a retrial. In the July 2006 trial, attorney Harvey Welch had called only one witness for the defense. On Thursday, Kirchner called a total of six witnesses: Thomas Tarr, correctional officer; Susan Frick, jail nurse; Terrence Ware, accuser’s co-worker at Provena; Michael Hediger, Urbana officer; Maria Thompson, Patrick’s wife; and Dawn Miller, accuser’s former friend. The testimony of these witnesses, in addition to legal arguments, builds the case that a jury has not heard all the evidence and Thompson has not received a fair trial. Thomas Tarr was the correctional officer that processed Thompson when he was taken to jail on August 24, 2004. Tarr testified to filling out a medical intake form at 2:56 p.m. and indicated that Susan Frick had also checked Thompson. Susan Frick was the staff nurse who examined Thompson. She testified that she had indicated on her form that Thompson had said he had hit his hand on a metal object and that she had taped his fingers. We find out later from Maria Thompson that Patrick had been wearing a splint on the index finger of his right hand, which was never identified by the accuser. Terrence Ware worked with the accuser. What was a bombshell to many in the courtroom, Ware testified that the accuser was on time to work at 7 a.m. on August 24, 2006 (contrary to her testimony she was late) and that she acted like nothing was wrong. Ware worked at Provena for four years and said he knew the accuser because he bought bootleg DVDs from her. When he heard that the police had arrived that day because the accuser said she had been raped, his response was, “She’s at it again.” Ware said that in 2003 the accuser had made allegations that he had showed her his private parts. Ware, an African American, said that he was aware of other incidents where the accuser had made sexual allegations against other men of color. When this white woman accused Ware, he was suspended from his job and nearly fired. Like the entire Thompson trial, Ware’s story is further evidence of how the charges of rape by a white woman can destroy the life of a black man in America. Urbana officer Hediger was the first cop who was on the scene, filled out a police report, and arrested Thompson. Kirchner questioned Hediger’s report which states that the accuser was “yelling” and “screaming” when she was allegedly attacked and testified that these were her words. Kirchner highlighted the accuser’s inconsistent statements that she was “not a yeller” and had spoken just above a talking voice. Kirchner also verified that the accuser made no mention of a finger splint. When Maria Thompson took the stand, she was calm, confident, and brave. Ruth Wyman questioned her about the morning of August 24, 2004. Maria said she awoke at 6:10 a.m. and her husband was in the shower. Between that time and approximately 7:30 a.m. when Patrick left to attend the first day of class at Parkland College, she was with him the entire time. Maria also testified that Patrick had been wearing a splint on the index finger of his right hand. She said they had gone to Osco the previous Sunday because Patrick’s finger had become so painful. The splint had a metal backing, blue foam, and was wrapped with tape. He had worn it all week and did not take it off in the shower. This splint has never been identified by the accuser. Ruth Wyman asked Maria if she had ever been interviewed by Harvey Welch. Maria said no and that she had told Welch during the trial that she wanted to testify. Welch told her it was not a good idea and that her testimony would not help. Of course, Maria’s testimony is Patrick Thompson’s sole alibi. Lastly, Dawn Miller was a fellow resident at Sunny Crest 2 Apartments and testified that she was with the accuser the night of the alleged incident. Miller had known the accuser for about three weeks. Nearly every night between 8 p.m. and midnight she was at the accuser’s apartment drinking and playing cards. On August 24, 2004, they were once again at the accuser’s apartment. Miller said the accuser acted like her normal self and there were no signs that she had been assaulted. Miller said she was also discouraged by Special Prosecutor Michael Vujovich to speak with Patrick Thompson. Vujovich had subpoenaed Miller in the first trial when Patrick Thompson defended himself. Miller said when Vujovich spoke with her the day of the trial, he told her not to talk to Patrick Thompson. He then did not call her to testify. According to Miller, it was because, “If I took the stand, I’d hurt her [the accuser’s] case.” Miller also said she was never contacted by attorney Harvey Welch in the second trial. Time had run out before Kirchner had the chance to call all the witnesses he had subpoenaed. A continuance was granted until February 7 at 9 a.m in courtroom A to hear the other witnesses. Others on the witness list include: Anthony Bates, the former boyfriend of the accuser; Harvey Welch, Thompson’s attorney in the second trail; as well as the accuser. C-U Citizens for Peace and Justice and Community Court Watch would like to thank all who attended Thursday’s hearing and we hope to see you again on February 7.

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