Third Trial of Black Activist Patrick Thompson Under Way: Not Guilty Verdict Delivered

BREAKING UPDATE: The jury returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY for the charges of criminal sexual abuse against Patrick Thompson. After an hour of closing statements by Attorney Kirchner, where he stepped the jury through the significant discrepancies between the stories of the accusers, the police report, and the witnesses, the jury deliberated for about 70 minutes before rendering a "not guilty" verdict. The more serious charges of home invasion were dropped by the judge two days ago in a directed verdict.

Patrick sobbed upon hearing the verdict, later hugging his wife and saying "it's over ... it's over." His attorney, Bob Kirchner, ushered about a twenty supporters out of the courtroom out of respect for the accuser. Supporters, most of whom had been attending parts of the the trial all week, gathered outside the courthouse. Deacon Clayborn and Rev. Underwood repeatedly shouted "Praise the Lord!" while Patrick Thompson and his attorneys gave interviews to the press. Ms. Wyman, who has worked tirelessly on this case for 9 months, looked exhausted as she left the courthouse. "I have to prepare for another case for Monday" she said. One supporter said: "I didn't think justice could be found in Champaign County for a black man accused of a sex crime he did not commit, but today, we saw that it is possible."

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On Monday, May 12, 2008, the third trial of Patrick Thompson began with no coverage in the mainstream media. The local press took great interest in 2004 when two black activists, Patrick Thompson and Martel Miller, produced the copwatch video Citzen’s Watch and, as a result, were charged with felony eavesdropping. On August 23, 2004, Miller was charged with the eavesdropping, and the very next day, August 24, 2004, Thompson was charged with sexual abuse and home invasion. A white woman who lived next to Thompson alleged that he entered her apartment at approximately 7 a.m. in the morning and attempted to rape her.

The same Assistant State’s Attorney Elizabeth Dobson who was directly involved in stopping Thompson and Miller from videotaping police (and is currently named in a civil lawsuit), was the same person who convinced a grand jury that Thompson should be indicted for these allegations. In the 2004 elections, Dobson was ousted from office, along with the John Piland administration, and the flimsy eavesdropping charges were eventually dropped. Media interest in these two black activists waned, but the charges against Thompson remained.

Dissatisfied with his initial attorney, Bruce Ratcliffe, Thompson made the bold decision to defend himself in the first trial. He faced Special Prosecutor Michael Vujovich, appointed after newly-elected State’s Attorney Julia Rietz, who was elected with the help of Thompson and Miller, broke her promise to drop all the charges against Thompson and withdrew herself from the case. Although Thompson had no formal legal training, the first trial ended in a hung jury.

Vujovich decided to retry the case. This time, Thompson hired local African American attorney Harvey Welch, who called only one witness for the defense, and the second trial resulted in a guilty verdict. At this point, attorneys Bob Kirchner and Ruth Wyman stepped in, filed a post-trial motion, and in a rare court decision, Judge Harry Clem reversed the guilty verdict claiming that Thompson had received ineffective assistance of counsel.

This brings us to the current third trial, expected to run the entire week of May 12 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Courtroom A at the Champaign County Courthouse. Bob Kirchner and Ruth Wyman are representing Thompson.

Jury selection began with an unusually large jury pool. Since no other trials were set for this week, 81 jurors, twice the usual size, were called as potential jurors. Still, among them there were only four African Americans, only a lousy 5% of the jury pool. By the close of Monday, four of the jurors were chosen.

In the questioning of the prospective jurors, Kirchner made one objection. When addressing a juror, Vujovich had asked if they could accept that this case rose and fell on the testimony of one woman. Kirchner objected and Judge Clem sustained, saying that this was a “misstatement.” This case depends on the testimony of several witnesses who will testify in the coming days.

Absent in the courtroom during jury selection was Mary Schenk, courtroom reporter for the News-Gazette. Last week, Patrick Thompson attended the sentencing of Brian Chesley (found guilty of getting beat up by the Champaign police). During a recess, Schenk had the gall to approach Thompson and ask him if there was going to be anything new in the third trial, because she was planning on being absent. Champaign Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice sent a letter to the editorial board of the News-Gazette requesting that Schenk attend the trial in its entirety (ucimc.org/node/2898). Schenk showed up for the first 15 minutes of the hearing on Monday and then left.

Among new witnesses in the third trial will be Bruce Ratcliffe, Thompson’s first attorney, who was outraged after receiving a subpoena from Special Prosecutor Vujovich.

Jury selection continues Tuesday morning, opening arguments will follow, and witnesses are set to begin testimony Tuesday afternoon.

For more see, “More Testimony Comes to Light in Post-trial Motion for Patrick Thompson”:

http://www.ucimc.org/node/712

BD

The Selection Process

URBANA- The problem of jury pools reflecting the actual demographics of the county was once again evident as only 3 African-American females, and 1 African-American male were available to hear the case against Thompson. After the charges against Thompson and the list of over 20 possible witnesses were read to the jury pool, Judge Clem ordered the court clerk to select 4 names at a time for preliminary examination by the judge and the attorneys. How the court clerk is selecting names is assumed to be a random process. None of the African-Americans available were selected for examination today.
The interview of the prospective jurors, known as voir dire, determines their qualifications and suitability to serve as jurors. In felony cases, each side has 10 peremptory challenges where no reason need be given to excuse a juror. Vujovich asked that two jurors be dismissed, and Kirchner dismissed two as well. The first day saw only 4 jurors accepted with the remaining 10 to be found tomorrow beginning at 9:00 a.m. in courtroom A.
Judge Clem led the examination by first asking jurors if they knew the defendant, the attorneys, or any of the witnesses named in the case. Clem then asked if any jurors had ever heard or read about the case against Thompson. Despite most jurors claiming to read The News-Gazette everyday, all jurors said they didn’t remember anything about the case.
Clem then made sure all jurors understood that the defendant is presumed innocent, doesn’t have to prove his innocence, doesn’t have to testify or present evidence; and the burden of proof is on the state. The judge then asked if jurors understood and could abide by the principles of reaching a guilty verdict only if they are convinced by the evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. Clem never defined what “beyond a reasonable doubt” is supposed to mean for the jury members.
Before turning it over to the attorneys for questioning, Clem asked if the nature of the case (a female claiming a sexual attack) would bias jury members, and if they had any prejudice about the case in general.
Each attorney is allowed to ask as many questions as they need until they arrive at accepting the jurors or dismissing whichever jurors they feel is appropriate. Once the attorney makes a choice, the other attorney is given a chance to ask questions until they make a decision. Dismissed jurors are replaced from the remaining jury pool as needed.
Any prior contacts with the criminal justice system, either as a victim of a crime or previous jury duty, is examined. Prosecutor Vujovich asked those with past experiences if they had a negative opinion about the criminal justice system. The prosecutor asked all jurors if they could render a verdict without physical evidence.

Kirchner’s inquiry checked for biases, whether jurors could weigh the testimony of an officer, a victim, or a defendant with the same consideration. Kirchner also examined jurors for possible biases regarding women and people of color. The defense also wondered if jurors could consider all the evidence, if the inappropriate touching claimed in this case was bothersome, and if they had experience in settling disputes and determining who might not be telling the truth. Kirchner asked jurors if they themselves had ever been wrongfully accused. One juror said he had been, remembering some civil litigation. The jurors were asked if they were trained in the law and some were asked if the fact that a trial even exists means something must have happened.

Before the day’s session was concluded, Clem admonished all returning jurors and prospective jurors that they should not read or watch any media accounts of the case. (the Judge doubted there would be any media with the absence of the News-Gazette.) Clem reminded all jurors no talking to anyone in the hallways. Selection will resume for the remaining 10 jurors at 9:00 a.m. in Courtroom A.

Report of Tuesday morning proceedings in Thompson case

Today's proceedings began with 27 prospective jurors seated in the courtroom benches (10 white males, 15 white females and 2 black females). Seated in the juror section were the 4 from the jury pool that were being questioned yesterday as the court adjourned, 1 white female and 3 white males. 2 of them (a white female and a white male) had already apparently already been accepted as jurors - only the remaining two white males (one college age, one middle-aged) were being questioned as proceedings began.

Judge Harry Clem presiding.

Prosecutor Michael Vujovich present

Attorneys Robert Kirchner, Ruth Wyman present with Patrick Thompson

About 10 folks watching from the benches.

Questioning by Kirchner continued...

Kirchner rejected the middle-aged man after questioning. The prospective juror replacing him (#95, white female) was rejected by Judge Clem due to professional relationship with State's Attorney Julia Reitz. The prospective juror replacing her (#1, white male) was rejected by Judge Clem due because of a religion that has a basic tenet against "sitting in judgment of other people". The prospective juror replacing him (#123, white male) was rejected by Kirchner after questioning. The prospective juror replacing him (#48, white female) was rejected by Kirchner after questioning. The prospective juror replacing him (#66, white male) was rejected by Judge Clem again due to a religion that has a basic tenet against "sitting in judgment of other people". The prospective juror replacing him (#111, white female) was accepted by Kirchner (along with the young man already seated at the start of the day's proceedings.

Questioning was then turned over to Prosecutor Vujovich, who accepted both the young man and white female juror #111.

During Vujovich's questioning of each prospective juror, he notably states there is absolutely no physical evidence and asks jurors whether they can render a verdict based solely on verbal testimony.

The current group of 4 total now-accepted jurors then joined the 4 other already selected sequestered jurors.

4 new prospective jurors were called (#11, #54, #60, #89) all white males. Vujovich accepted all 4 after questioning. Kirchner rejected #11 and #54. #11 had been notably jovial and flippant. The prospective jurors replacing them were #112 and #62, both white males. Both were accepted by Kirchner after questioning, but #62 was rejected by Vujovich. The prospective juror replacing him, #46 (white female) was accepted by both Vujovich and Kirchner. These 4 accepted jurors then joined the already-selected 8 jurors to fill out the 12 total jurors required.

Then selection of 2 alternate jurors proceeded. The first two prospective jurors were #78 and #119, both white females. #78 quickly admitted bias due to prior life experience and was excused by Judge Clem. The prospective juror replacing her (#26, white female) was accepted along with #119 by both Kirchner and Vujovich.

The alternate jurors joined the 12 other jurors.

10 jurors were left seated in the benches and were dismissed by the judge.

The full jury and alternates were escorted into the courtroom and seated in the jury section. There were 7 white males and 5 white females on the jury proper. The two alternates were white females.

The jury was formally sworn in.

The judge advised it was inappropriate for anyone to approach them about the case, that they should disengage if this happens and that it should be reported. The judge advised that they are not to talk about the case with each other until all evidence and law instructions are heard.

Court recessed just after noon and was scheduled to start again at 1:30PM with jurors and attorneys to report 1:15PM.

The judge advised court watchers to limit foot traffic and that if they left, they will have to wait outside until a break in the proceedings, citing the concern is with the noisy doors which are distracting.

Questions
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Questions asked of prospective jurors by Judge Clem included:
- you, your family or close friend have any involvement with anyone in the Attorney General's office, State's Attorney's office or any other office regularly representing the people?
- you, your family or close friend have any involvement with law enforcement?
- do you know the defendant?
- do you know the defendant's attorneys?
- do you know any of the announced witnesses?
- have you previously learned any fact of this case?
- do you understand that the defendant is presumed innocent, that the burden of proof is entirely on the prosecution, that the burden of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant is not required to present any evidence or required to testify, that you are to sign for a guilty verdict only if evidence presented leads you to conclude guilt beyond a reasonable doubt? Do you support these principles?
- anything about the nature of the case make you uncomfortable being a juror or would put you in a frame of mind where you could not be fair and impartial?
- anything you can think of that would result in advantage or disadvantage to either side?
- anything that would cause you to evaluate evidence or testimony from one side differently?
- anything you've left behind that would distract you or keep you from giving full attention to this trial for the rest of this week?
[if there's an affirmative answer to any of the above questions, other questions are asked to clarify nature of any bias]
[some additional questions are based on how they filled out a juror questionnaire]

Questions asked of prospective jurors by Prosecutor Vujovich included:
- do you have any children? how old?
- there will be no physical evidence in this case. Can you render a guilty or not guilty verdict based only on testimony of witnesses?
- anything about the nature of the charges make you uncomfortable?
- do you have any preconceived opinion on the case?
- will you have an open mind, listen to the evidence and make a decision accordingly?
- will you make your judgment based on your experiences in life?
- have you, your family or a friend ever been the victim of a crime?
- [if answer to above question is yes] Were they injured? Have you formed an opinion of the police, court or prosecutor's work in that case?
[some additional questions are based on how they filled out a juror questionnaire]

Questions asked of prospective jurors by Attorney Kirchner included:
- what news sources do you use?
- do you read any local Internet blogs?
- have you had any education in law or medicine?
- Is there anything about the nature of the case
- the type of allegation, the fact that one side is black and one side is white or that one side is male and one side is female that would factor in your evaluation of credibility of individuals or the evidence?
- Are you familiar with VEYA or CU Citizens for Peace and Justice?
- Are you familiar with Sunnycrest Apartments?
- Do you have any opinion on whether allegations like this are usually true or not?
- Have you ever been wrongfully accused?
- do you ever play the role of interviewer to determine credibility of or to judge an individual?
- have you testified before in court cases?
- are you involved in any pending cases?
- what charitable organizations do you contribute to or volunteer for?
- do you bring to the jury any special beneficial knowledge or experience?
[some additional questions are based on how they filled out a juror questionnaire]

Scheduling notes:
-----------------------

At one point, Judge Clem assured juror #26 that the trial would not last past the end of the week.

It seemed that Judge Clem routinely makes it a point to try and recess for lunch near noon for about an hour and 15 minutes.

Judge Clem also reiterated that he firmly aims to end proceedings each day 4:30PM at the latest, but that once deliberation by jurors begins, they may choose to stay after that.

Important note about the Jury Pool

On Monday, there were 81 potential jurors to select from with 4 African-Americans to possibly hear the Thomspon case.
On Tuesday morning there were only 26 jurors to select from with only 2 African Americans to select from.
None of the African-Americans were called by the court clerk for examination. Thompson's jury is 7 white males, 5 white females, and 2 white female alternates.

While it would be ideal if race didn't matter in evaluating evidence and testimony- the fact that our experiences with law enforcement and our perception of who commits crimes remains tainted by race. The people on the jury now are probably nice people from the middle class who probably have no intention of convicting a man just because he's black. Allegations coming from a white woman against a black man, however, give rise to wonder if old racial mythologies won't work there way into the decision making process. The life experiences that Prosecutor Vujovich keeps asking the jury to rely upon to form a decision is a troubling notion if jurors have the perception that blacks commit crime and black men in particular are prone to outrageous sexual behavior.
Whether the jury can see Thompson as a college student, married family man of four children, revolutionary activist seeking to mentor at-risk youth, and criminal justice reformer remains to be seen. At this point in the proceedings, the jury has no concept of who Patrick Thompson is other than the state says this silent black man at the defense table did something.

Simply put, imagine a white person accused of trying to rape a black woman and his jury is an all-black jury. The scales of justice would be already tipped where?

While many say it doesn't matter, we are all human beings; the fact that the different races in Champaign County don't see much of each other and are segregated gives rise to letting the News-Gazette, in cooperation with the press releases of law enforcement, to taint our daily perceptions.

Hopefully, someone on this jury can see beyond the stereotypes.

Day Two of the Thompson Trial

Tuesday, May 13, 2008, an all-white jury was chosen for the third trial of Patrick Thompson. Opening arguments were made. The State’s first witness was Urbana officer Michael Hediger, who described answering a call the morning of August 24, 2008. He arrived at Provena, where the accuser was working and found her in a supply closet. She was crying, gasping for breath, and visibly shaking. Upon cross examination, Hediger admitted he did not take fingerprints, photograph the crime scene, collect hairs, conduct interviews, or check the accuser for scratches and bruises.

In 2006, members of CU Citizens for Peace and Justice spoke with Urbana Police Chief Mike Bily, who was kind enough to have a meeting with us. We asked Chief Bily if it was police protocol in a serious crime, such as this one, to collect fingerprints, photo the crime scene, and conduct a full investigation. He said yes, it was.

Late Tuesday afternoon, the accuser took the stand and again told her account of how Thompson, shirtless, entered her apartment, grabbed and attacked her. In police reports, she told officer Hediger that she was yelling and screaming, yet in the previous two trials neighbors said they heard nothing.

When Vujovich began to inquire about her tone during the alleged incident, she said, “I don’t know how to explain it.” She then began crying. Although she has testified several times previously and four years have passed since the alleged incident, for the first time trial proceedings had to be stopped and the jury escorted out of the courtroom. A woman in the front row of the jury box was seen crying.

Testimony from the accuser and cross-examination will continue Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. in Courtroom A.

Home Invasion charged is no longer being considered!

Big news of Wednesday afternoon, May 14, 2008:
As of around 3pm this afternoon, the charge of home invasion is no longer being considered by the jury. The prosecution had rested. The defense moved that the prosecution had not proven home invasion, and the judge agreed.

The other charge is still being submitted by the prosecution.

Home invasion carries a mandatory jail term of several years. The other charge does not carry a mandatory jail term.

Respectfully submitted,
-karen medina

Home Invasion Charges Dropped!!!

Wednesday afternoon, after the State rested, defense attorney Bob Kirchner argued that they had not proved their case and Judge Clem ruled the home invasion charges against Patrick Thompson be dismissed. The charge of sexual abuse still stands and proceedings will continue Thursday. But the charges of home invasion, carrying a mandatory sentence of 6-30 years, have been dropped. Thompson no longer faces a long-term prison sentence.

It was an emotional moment, Thompson broke down crying, and after recess he rushed to embrace his long-time friend Martel Miller in the courtroom. Thompson’s supporters were all relieved, but there remains further defense witnesses Thursday and a verdict on the sexual abuse charge is expected as early as early Thursday afternoon.

Wednesday morning, the accuser returned to the stand. After questioning by the State, she was cross-examined by Bob Kirchner. He asked about the several inconsistent statements made during the four times she testified: July 2005, July 2006, September 2007, and the current 2008 trial. Before, she had testified that Thompson had trapped her in the laundry room. Another time she said she first saw him at the railing in front of his apartment. One time she testified that she had her laundry in a basket, another time she said she was carrying it in her arms. She had told Urbana officer Michael Hediger, and it reads in the police report, that she was “yelling” and “screaming” which she did not mention in this week’s testimony.

When asked about these inconsistencies, the accuser’s response was the same, “I don’t remember,” which she stated repeatedly.

She was asked if she grabbed an iron that she admitted was nearby because she was planning to iron her work uniform. She was asked if she attempted to close the bedroom door, or to lock herself in the bathroom and call the police on her cell phone which she had with her. Her responses were no.

Asked about a hand splint that Thompson appears to have been wearing at the time, she said she never saw it.

Vujovich called other witnesses: Anthony Bates, the accuser’s boyfriend and co-worker at Provena at the time of the alleged incident; Gary Johnson, friend and co-worker; Bessie Ann Cisne and Arlene Mefford, who worked at the desk on the 7th floor of Provena where the accuser was a housekeeper. They testified that they saw the accuser that morning, “shaking,” “crying,” “upset,” and “very troubled.”

After all the State’s witnesses testified, Vujovich rested his case. Kirchner then motioned for a directed verdict on the two counts, arguing that the State had not proved its case on the charges of home invasion or sexual abuse.

It looked like a long shot. But in a miraculous turn of events, Judge Clem allowed Kirchner’s motion and dismissed the charge of home invasion. Of all things, he ruled that the state had not proven that Patrick Thompson was not a police officer!

Vujovich attempted to argue that he had not closed his case, but an angry Judge Clem said that he would not allow that kind of “gamesmanship.”

Vujovich looked defeated. After recess, he returned to the back of the courtroom, sat behind the News-Gazette’s Mary Schenk (who decided to show up today), and placed his chin on folded arms on the back of a chair.

Patrick Thompson and his supporters were elated.

Returning to court, the defense called two witnesses, Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas Tarr and jail nurse Susan Fricke, who testified that Thompson was wearing a splint on his right hand.

The charges of sexual abuse still stand and witnesses will testify beginning Thursday morning at 9 a.m. A verdict could be reached as soon as Thursday afternoon.

We’re calling all CU Citizens for Peace and Justice to come out Thursday and show your support for Patrick!

Not a police officer???

Sounds like Judge Clem is either really biased or off his rocker on this one. How do you prove that someone is not a police officer? I can't even think how I would prove that I'm not a police officer myself. I'm pretty sure I'm not, and I'm also sure that everyone in that courtroom was 100% positive that Thompson wasn't a cop either. If I was on the jury trying to be fair and impartial in deciding the facts I'd be mighty pissed off by this.

Fair and Impartial

Brotha A-Dub

Based on my observations as a courtwatcher, I have seen arrogant, mean spirited, rude and obnoxious judges that acted as though they were the law. In four years, motion after motion, sitting with P. Thomspon during the first trial, going through a third trial and seeing PT with four different attorneys, and after watching Judge Difanis, Ladd, Kennedy, and Ford, I have to say that Judge Clem is the most neutral judge that I have observed. Please ask around and see if you find that to be accurate and let me know because I'd like to know if I am being biased for PT or if my perceptions are actually true. PT is not the first and will not be the last to need a "fair" trial.

I am still unclear as to what the ruling about not being a peace officer was about but what I have learned through my involvement with the justice system, politics and life in general is that I should ask some well researched questions, listen without malice, then draw my conclusions. The courtroom is a strange place sometimes and what appears to be so is just an illusion if you don't know the rules. I hope to be edcuated about this one also.

If you were on the jury, trying to be fair and impartial would you also be pissed off that the police didn't follow proper protocol and look for physical evidence? Would you be upset that the witness has changed her story (?) times? doesn't remember anything unless it is helpful for her,? swears under oath on one day and claims not to remember what she said the next, even after the transcript is in front of her? Would you be pissed that thousands of your tax dollars have been wasted for a trial that has no evidence to support the accusation?

PT not a cop

The explanation of the charge dropped is simply that Vujovich fucked up.

The burden of proof is on the State to show two elements in the home invasion charge:

1) PT was not a police officer.
2) That he was in the apartment.

The accuser only testified that she new the invader was her neighbor.
Vujovich should have had a list of questions, one of which was asking if she knew PT was a cop.

Now, any attempt to reopen the charge would be double jeopardy.

BD

It's still bad law

I know the argument, and it just doesn't work. First, evidence can be re-opened to establish trivial facts that are not seriously challenged (this has been upheld on appeal). Second, being a cop doesn't eliminate the home invasion charge, you have to be acting in the line of duty, and the testified-to assault was clearly outside the line of duty.

The evidence in this case was pretty weak, but how would you feel if the Urbana child molester had gotten off because of this kind of "gotcha" jurisprudence?

How will you feel if the home invasion charge is retried separately because Clem's ruling is overturned?

my notes for Wednesday afternoon's court

Afternoon of the Third Day of the trial, Wednesday May 14, 2008

At 1:35pm, the judge entered the courtroom. The audience at that point included 8 supporters of Patrick Thompson, 1 person from the News-Gazette, and 1 unknown woman.

The jurors were brought in.

The afternoon of the Third Day started with the Prosecution still making its case.

The Prosecution called 4 witnesses, all co-workers. The Prosecution was trying to show a cohesive story of a woman noticeably shaken as she arrived at work late the day of the alleged incident. The witnesses however could not tell the court what they had heard because it would only be hearsay. The hearsay included the story that the woman progressively told people as she moved through her co-workers and then to the person who orders the supplies.

Through the cross-examination of these witnesses, the Defense tried to show that according to these same witnesses' previous testimony and recorded statements to police, the story the woman gave them was very different each time she talked to another person -- that she told one person that she was cornered in the laundry room, she told the next that she was followed from the laundry room, she told one person that she had been pulled from her apartment, she told another person that she was backed into the couch, she told one that she fought (but there was no physical injury to show for it), ... The other point that the Defense tried to bring forward was that her friends suggested that she call the police but she seemed to not take their advice immediately. Yet another point the Defense tried to make was that the woman had been late to work several times before and that being late this time would mean trouble for her.

With these witnesses, there were a few other contradictions too like whether the woman was crying or just speaking with a shaky voice or whether the door to the dirty laundry/utility room was locked. When the officer did arrive at her work, the staff person said she was not crying when she showed the officer to the linen closet where the woman was loading up with clean linen. This same staff person had said the woman was crying earlier in the utility room when talking to the supply person. But the supply person said that the woman was not crying, but that the woman did have a shaky voice while they talked. The supply person also testified that she told the woman that she should not be at work when she was so emotional.

After the Prosecution's four witnesses to the emotional state of the woman, the Jury was given a mid-afternoon break, reminded that it was still too early to discuss the case or make any conclusions. 10 minute recess started at 3pm.

At 3:20pm, the Judge entered. While the jury was still out of the courtroom, the Judge talked with the lawyers. The Prosecution rested its case. At the point where the Prosecution rests, I am told that it is standard for the Defense to move that each charge be dropped. The Defense moved for a directed verdict: that the Home Invasion charge be dropped because the Prosecution had failed to prove this -- the testimony about "not a Peace Officer" was not enough. The Defense moved that the Sexual Assault be dropped because according to a federal case ([somebody] vs. Hudson), injury had to be proven: no physical injury had been proven and no psychological injury had been proven (no fear to enter the room, no loss of appetite, no withdrawal, ...).

The Prosecution then is given a chance to make his arguments to the Defense's requests. The Prosecution said that injury could also be emotional and that the jury could see emotional injury from the testimony. Then the Prosecution said that no peace officer would be shirtless, wearing sweatpants and tennis shoes.

Now that both sides have made their statements, the Judge decides on the motion. The Judge decided that the Home Invasion charge would be dismissed -- the burden of proof fell on the Prosecution and it failed. The Judge also noted that peace officers often do not wear uniforms and listed several situations where they do not. The Judge ruled that the other motion be denied, that emotional injury was enough.

The Prosecution immediately asked to continue. The Judge reminded the Prosecution that it had rested its case. The Prosecution said that now the Defense brought this up, the Prosecution would like to continue. The Judge denied the motion to reopen and reminded the Prosecution that the time to reopen is before the Defense begins, not after.

The Judge left the courtroom.

At 3:47, the Judge returned to the courtroom. At 3:50, the Jury was invited back into the courtroom. The Judge informed the Jurors that the Prosecution had rested and that the Prosecution was not submitting the charge of Home Invasion and not to worry about the reason for this.

The Defense called two witnesses, both from the County Jail and both testified that they processed Patrick Thompson into the jail (Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning) and that before arriving there he had a hurt and swollen right index finger, and they had a written record that Patrick said that a metal object had fallen on his finger on Sunday.

Then the court was then ready to recess for the day. The Judge reminded the jury not to talk about the case and to have no contact with any news sources. Court will start again at 9am on Thursday, May 15, 2008. The Jury should only consider the evidence in the trial, and to not make any conclusions yet. The Jury was dismissed.

The Judge asked how much longer and it was decided that the Defense should have the Jury Instructions ready tomorrow for the end whether it be Thursday or Friday.

Respectfully submitted,
-karen medina

Day Four of the Thompson Trial

Thursday, May 15, 2008, the defense presented the remainder of their witnesses. Maria Thompson, wife of the defendant gave her account of the morning of August 24, 2004.

Due to the pressure of the four-year ordeal that she has had to live with, Mrs. Thompson broke down in tears after the request to state her name for the record. The jury was escorted out of the courtroom and a recess was called. After Mrs. Thompson collected herself, the jury returned and she responded to questioning from Ruth Wyman.

Mrs. Thompson said that from 6:10 a.m. when she woke up, until 7:30 a.m. when her husband left to buy books for his fall semester at Parkland College, he was always in her sight.

Patrick also took the stand Thursday, described his work with VEYA (Visionaries Education Youth and Adults), and the events of August 2004.

On Sunday, August 22, Patrick was at the Independent Media Center, then at a storefront on Main Street in downtown Urbana, filming for a video documentary he was producing. He explained how a microphone stand fell, injuring his right index finger. Monday morning, he and Maria went to Osco to buy a finger splint that he wore to protect it. Patrick testified that he is right handed. His accuser never mentioned in any of her accounts that her assailer was wearing a finger splint.

Bob Kirchner asked Thompson directly, did he know the accuser and did he ever enter her apartment. Thompson stated flatly, “No.”

Others who were co-workers of the accuser at Provena also testified on Thursday. One of them said that she was talkative and smiling when he first saw her the morning of August 24, 2004, but that he saw her upset later that day. He said he had seen her mood swings “a lot of times.”

At the end of the day, the defense rested its case. Vujovich plans to call a couple brief rebuttal witnesses Friday morning. Closing arguments will follow.

A verdict is expected Friday afternoon.

Come help us fill Courtroom A at the Champaign County Courthouse.

Peace, BD

Patrick Thompson Acquitted!!!

WILL just announced (Friday, 4:30pm) that Patrick Thompson has been acquitted!!!

Congratulations to Patrick and to all who've struggled alongside him.

Especially now to Bob Kirchner and Ruth Wyman.

Karen M. reports that Deacon James is outside the courthouse
praising the Lord...

Waiting with 'bated breath to hear more...
Stuart

Indymedia on the Scene After Thompson Not Guilty Verdit

With help from Joe Feria we have interviews with Patrick Thompson, Ruth Wyman, Danielle Chynoweth, Chris Evans, Aaron Ammons, Ivan Ruiz, Randall Cotton, and Martel Miller.

At:

http://www.iresist.org/Patrick.html

These were done outside the Champaign County Courthouse right after the not guilty verdict Friday afternoon.

BD

Interview with juror

I spoke today with one of the jurors in the Patrick Thompson trial who was kind enough to talk to me. I asked her about the jury deliberation. She said the jury paid close attention to the case, but that there was simply not enough evidence to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

She said she did not want to blame the police, because she respected the work they do.

I asked if it was a difficult decision because she was a woman. She said it was not clear whether the alleged incident happened or not, but there was just not the evidence.

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