CHICAGO (CBS) — The politically-charged case of a man who claims police torture 30 years ago landed him in prison for a rape he didn’t commit will remain in Cook County for now.
Chief Judge Timothy Evans has denied Stanley Wrice’s request for a change of venue, instead deciding the Circuit Court Clerk’s office will choose from a pool of judges who never worked with former Mayor Richard M. Daley, and an appellate judge who have been subpoenaed to testify.
WBBM’s Mike Krauser reports Evans said he will take steps to make sure a judge is picked at random from a pool of judges who never worked for Daley, who was Cook County State’s Attorney when Wrice was prosecuted, or for Lampkin, who was a prosecutor on the case, and later a supervising judge.
Wrice is seeking a new trial, and the previous judge on his case, Evelyn Clay, recused herself last month, saying she knows some of the parties involved.
Clay’s decision came just a week after Wrice’s attorney subpoenaed Daley and Lampkin.
Wrice’s attorney, Jennifer Bonjean, has been trying to get Wrice’s post-conviction appeals moved to another county, fearing any judge in Cook County would have a conflict of interest, because of ties to Daley and/or Lampkin.
“I’ve gotten some heat for calling this political. I’m a reasonable person, and I draw reasonable inferences,” she said.
David Protess, of the Chicago Innocence Project, said Wrice’s case is one of “actual innocence,” and said he doesn’t see how any Cook County judge would not have some ties to Daley.
“I’m having a hard time personally imagining how a mayor of Chicago over two decades – who was also for an additional decade State’s Attorney – will not create a conflict of interests on the part of any judge in Cook County,” he said.
However, Protess and Bonjean said they’ll keep an open mind.
Wrice, now 59, has claimed police detectives working for disgraced former Police Cmdr. Jon Burge tortured him into falsely confessing to a 1982 gang rape.
Burge is currently behind bars for a conviction for lying during testimony in a civil case involving torture allegations.
In seeking a judge to handle Wrice’s appeal, Evans said he’ll exclude any judge who was a Cook County prosecutor from 1974 to 1989, when Daley and Lampkin worked there. He’ll also exclude any judge who worked as a criminal judge from 1989 to 2009, when Lampkin was a judge there. He’ll also exclude any judge with fewer than five years on the bench.
The clerk’s office must select a new judge from that pool by Thursday.