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InvisibleEdame
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Registered: 01/14/03
Posts: 1,270
Loc: outta here
5 yrs in prison awaiting trial, acquitted in 15 mins
    #1637635 - 06/16/03 04:36 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

I can't even imagine this... being locked away like an animal for 5 years before he could even prove his innocence!?!...Jesus...

From the Chicago Sun-Time:

Inmates' long wait for justice

June 15, 2003

BY FRANK MAIN Crime Reporter


Bill White spent five years in Cook County Jail awaiting trial for murder. But it took a judge only 15 minutes to rule the state's key witness "worthless" and set White free.

One week later, White's co-defendants, Otis English, 32, and Roland Gray, 50, walked out of the jail when the state dropped their cases, too.

The men--who call themselves the "Wrigleyville Three" because they were charged with the murder of a young couple near the Cubs' ballpark in 1997--were caught in a legal system that moves far too slowly, Cook County Sheriff Michael Sheahan said.

"In a murder case, a reasonable time in jail would be 1-1/2 or two years," he said. "Anything over two years is ludicrous."

The Wrigleyville Three walked free in May. But another 29 men and women held for at least five years in Cook County Jail remain behind bars; most have never had their day in court. And 66 more inmates have been held in the jail longer than four years.

Such long delays can deny justice for the inmates, contribute to dangerous crowding in the jail and waste millions of taxpayer dollars.

Delays also can add to the emotional suffering of the victims of crime and their families.

"We definitely saw time wasted, money wasted," said an aunt of Che Messner, one of the Wrigleyville murder victims. "It was frustrating."

How can it happen?

Both sides--prosecutors and defense attorneys--play the system, critics say, and judges fail to stop the games. Sometimes, prosecutors are looking for time to find more witnesses to beef up a weak case. Sometimes, defense attorneys are hoping that witnesses and evidence will fade away with the passing months and years. And sometimes, judges are overly cautious in pushing cases along for fear of making a legal misstep that might create grounds for an appeal.

Some of the costs can be measured in dollars and cents. An inmate's room and board runs $20,000 a year. So the taxpayers' tab for the 29 men and women still sitting in Cook County Jail for more than five years is $2.9 million and rising.

But there is, in addition, a toll on all of the jail's inmates and the officers who guard them. Delayed justice contributes to crowding. And crowding creates an emotional powder keg that can explode in violence. Suits claiming brutality against inmates have cost the county millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts in recent years.

Sheahan said he'd like to see the creation of an independent committee to look over judges' shoulders at cases that have dragged on. But he still must sell the idea.

'I could have died'

Bill White, 34, learned the costs of crowding the hard way. He lived in a cell with three people, one of whom slept on a mattress on the floor. Rats and cockroaches scurried nearby. Always, he said, he faced the possibility of being attacked--by inmates and officers.

"I would be on the phone with my dad and say, 'I have to hang up, they're coming toward me with a knife,' " he said of fellow inmates in Division 9, a maximum-security unit in the sprawling jail complex near 26th and California.

"I have been grabbed by the head and thrown against the wall by guards. I was on pins and needles."

Violence wasn't White's only worry. This year, he was diagnosed with an illness that required blood transfusions, but he says the medical staff was slow to give treatment.

"I could have died," he said.

White did his best to survive. He won friends in jail with his hair clippers. He knew how to cut hair and wound up trimming inmates and officers. He was placed in a tier for inmates who renounce gang involvement and became involved in Bible studies and adult education.

His dad never missed a visit and attended most of White's court hearings--at least 65 of them.

But White's fiancee didn't wait for him after his November 1997 arrest, and he desperately missed his four children. His oldest daughter is attending college and wants to become a lawyer.

"I would cry myself to sleep some nights," he said, because he worried he might receive the death penalty.

A weak case

White was working in a job using newly learned computer skills when he was implicated in the May 1997 shootings of Kelly Fitzgerald and Messner. Police suspected Messner was a marijuana dealer and that the couple were killed in their apartment in a drug ripoff.

Eugene Hawes became the state's key witness, telling police that White, his cousin, admitted to the killing at a birthday party. All three defendants confessed, but they say their statements were coerced by the police.

White's lawyer, Jeffrey Granich, poked holes in Hawes' account.

For example, Granich said, the party was held in January 1997, months before the slayings. After a six-day trial, Judge Vincent Gaughan took 15 minutes to dismiss the case against White because of inconsistencies in Hawes' testimony.

Granich blasts prosecutors for bringing a weak case, and he says they dragged it out to "take the wind out of these defendants and make them sweat in jail."

"What is remarkable," he said, "is that these defendants had the patience to wait it out."

Granich noted that Laura Morask, one of the prosecutors, was found to have engaged in misconduct twice by the state appeals court based on her comments in other trials.

Still, Granich, a private attorney, acknowledged that he spent 1-1/2 years filing pre-trial motions. And public defenders handling the other cases took even more time, he said.

Asked why Gaughan did not order both sides to move the case to trial faster, Granich said, "Everyone in the system--the judges and lawyers--has an obligation to see justice is done well and fast. That broke down in this case. But I respect Judge Gaughan for vindicating us."

Gaughan declined to comment.

John Gorman, spokesman for State's Attorney Richard Devine, defended the prosecutors.

"Laura Morask is an experienced prosecutor who along with others brought this case in good faith based on the evidence," he said. "If the defendants said they were ready, we would have been required to go to trial in 120 days under the speedy-trial law."

Gorman said defense lawyers have an interest in delaying cases because witnesses will sometimes recant or vanish. A newer reason for delays, he said, is that more defendants are requesting DNA tests.

One of those cases involves James Scott, accused of killing Chicago police officer John Knight in 1999. Scott's lawyer, Michael Mayfield, recently won approval for a DNA test to see whether blood found at the scene of the killing matches Scott's.

That could delay the case several more months, officials say.

"Here is a family of a police officer that has to wait 41/2 years for trial," Sheahan said of that case. "Something is wrong."

Fixing the system

The John Howard Association, a jail watchdog, reported a "particularly important" statistic to a federal judge on June 5: The average stay for an inmate rose 15 percent over the last year, from 187 days to 216 days. The average stay in 1989 was just 138 days.

About 100,000 inmates are booked into the jail each year. But because the average stay is rising, the jail becomes more crowded.

In recent years, the sheriff has worked with judges, prosecutors, the public defender and state prison system to reduce the jail population.

Chief Criminal Court Judge Paul Biebel points to new courtrooms dedicated to handling drug charges--70 percent of all cases. Many of those defendants can be diverted into treatment programs instead of jail, he said.

The sheriff has expanded an electronic-monitoring program so more people charged with nonviolent offenses can await trial at home. More beds have been squeezed into the jail complex.

And the state's attorney is identifying convicted murderers sitting in jail for months awaiting post-conviction hearings, Gorman said. They are being shipped to state prison until the hearings. Jail is for those awaiting trial, not convicts, he said.

Those efforts have helped decrease the jail population from 11,419 in October 2002 to about 10,200 in recent months.

Yet Sheahan says a systematic change is needed to control the length of jail stays. He proposes a committee of retirees--a judge, defense attorney and prosecutor--to review cases that have not gone to trial for a long period, perhaps two years. It could recommend how to move the cases along.

"Whatever you pay them, say $50,000 each, you'd save in the cost of housing inmates," he said.

James O'Rourke, executive director of the Cook County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council--whose members include heads of the county's courts and law enforcement agencies--said it would look at Sheahan's proposal.

"Implementing such a case management system would be up to Judge Biebel and Chief Judge [Timothy] Evans," he said. "But we are certainly open to new ideas."


--------------------
The above is an extract from my fictional novel, "The random postings of Edame".
:tongue:

In the beginning was the word. And man could not handle the word, and the hearing of the word, and he asked God to take away his ears so that he might live in peace without having to hear words which might upset his equinamity or corrupt the unblemished purity of his conscience.

And God, hearing this desperate plea from His creation, wrinkled His mighty brow for a moment and then leaned down toward man, beckoning that he should come close so as to hear all that was about to be revealed to him.

"Fuck you," He whispered, and frowned upon the pathetic supplicant before retreating to His heavens.


Edited by Edame (06/16/03 04:37 PM)


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OfflineAzmodeus
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Re: 5 yrs in prison awaiting trial, acquitted in 15 mins [Re: Edame]
    #1637840 - 06/16/03 05:52 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Thats sooo fucking BRUTAL!!!

If i had to wait that long before having my case dismissed in 15 minutes you better just keep me locked up! :mad:

I would flip once i got out, probably at the expense of innocents too....thats fucking outrageous!  How can the guy still respect the law?!?...i'd like to see where he is in a year from now...


--------------------
"Know your Body - Know your Mind - Know your Substance - Know your Source.

Lest we forget. "


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OfflinePhred
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Re: 5 yrs in prison awaiting trial, acquitted in 15 mins [Re: Edame]
    #1637951 - 06/16/03 06:38 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

The guy had an idiot for a lawyer -- if he was in fact innocent.

The defense can waive the preliminary hearing and also waive "time" and insist on going to trial at the earliest possible date. The prosecution then has literally no choice but to go to trial when the defendant chooses, whether the prosecution has prepared their case or not. As a matter of fact, there are times when the prosecution will actually drop charges rather than risk an acquittal in open court -- the charges can theoretically always be re-filed at a later date (although they almost never are), but once acquitted, the defendant is off the hook forever on that particular charge.

This tactic of pretending to want to go to trial as quickly as possible is a fairly common one in areas with overcrowded court dockets, and is one of the reasons so many stone-guilty scumweasels end up back on the streets within months of being arrested.

pinky


--------------------


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OfflineAzmodeus
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Re: 5 yrs in prison awaiting trial, acquitted in 15 mins [Re: Phred]
    #1637967 - 06/16/03 06:46 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

"Tactics"...should play no part in justice.... :frown: :mad:


--------------------
"Know your Body - Know your Mind - Know your Substance - Know your Source.

Lest we forget. "


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InvisibleEdame
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Posts: 1,270
Loc: outta here
Re: 5 yrs in prison awaiting trial, acquitted in 15 mins [Re: Phred]
    #1638011 - 06/16/03 07:04 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

I guess it's possible he couldn't afford a lawyer, maybe it was a public defender (is that the right term?)

I wonder what luv would think of this situation.


--------------------
The above is an extract from my fictional novel, "The random postings of Edame".
:tongue:

In the beginning was the word. And man could not handle the word, and the hearing of the word, and he asked God to take away his ears so that he might live in peace without having to hear words which might upset his equinamity or corrupt the unblemished purity of his conscience.

And God, hearing this desperate plea from His creation, wrinkled His mighty brow for a moment and then leaned down toward man, beckoning that he should come close so as to hear all that was about to be revealed to him.

"Fuck you," He whispered, and frowned upon the pathetic supplicant before retreating to His heavens.


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OfflinePhred
Fred's son
Male

Registered: 10/19/00
Posts: 12,949
Loc: Dominican Republic
Last seen: 1 year, 10 months
Re: 5 yrs in prison awaiting trial, acquitted in 15 mins [Re: Azmodeus]
    #1638040 - 06/16/03 07:24 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Azmodeus writes:

"Tactics"...should play no part in justice....

Agreed. This is why I qualified my judgment of the guy's lawyer by saying "if he was in fact innocent." If the guy was guilty, delaying and delaying and delaying again is often the best tactic. Witnesses die or lose their memories, evidence gets misplaced, laws can change, tough judges can retire, etc. Five years waiting for trial is better than a life sentence once convicted.

The guilty who do press for a quick trial are the gamblers -- "Hey, I took a chance and lost. So what? I killed the guy anyway, and my sentence is no worse now than if I had wasted a few years waiting for it. As a matter of fact, the sooner I start serving it, the more time I get off for good behavior."

It's a "gamble" with no real downside to it.

If the courts weren't so clogged with victimless "crime" prosecutions (drugs, prostitution, gambling, etc.), there would be no need for these kind of games.

pinky


--------------------


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Invisibleluvdemshrooms
Two inch dick..but it spins!?


Registered: 11/29/01
Posts: 33,733
Loc: Lost In Space
Re: 5 yrs in prison awaiting trial, acquitted in 15 mins [Re: Edame]
    #1638051 - 06/16/03 07:31 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

1st, what the fuck do you care what I think?
2nd, if the facts in the story are accurate (and I've seen it in two places now), the guy was royally fucked.


--------------------
You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for that my dear friend is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it. ~ Adrian Rogers


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InvisibleEdame
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Posts: 1,270
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Re: 5 yrs in prison awaiting trial, acquitted in 15 mins [Re: luvdemshrooms]
    #1638072 - 06/16/03 07:43 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

I didn't say I care, I said I wonder.


--------------------
The above is an extract from my fictional novel, "The random postings of Edame".
:tongue:

In the beginning was the word. And man could not handle the word, and the hearing of the word, and he asked God to take away his ears so that he might live in peace without having to hear words which might upset his equinamity or corrupt the unblemished purity of his conscience.

And God, hearing this desperate plea from His creation, wrinkled His mighty brow for a moment and then leaned down toward man, beckoning that he should come close so as to hear all that was about to be revealed to him.

"Fuck you," He whispered, and frowned upon the pathetic supplicant before retreating to His heavens.


Post Extras: Print Post  Remind Me! Notify Moderator
Invisibleluvdemshrooms
Two inch dick..but it spins!?


Registered: 11/29/01
Posts: 33,733
Loc: Lost In Space
Re: 5 yrs in prison awaiting trial, acquitted in 15 mins [Re: Edame]
    #1638124 - 06/16/03 08:20 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

If you didn't care, you wouldn't wonder.


--------------------
You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for that my dear friend is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it. ~ Adrian Rogers


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InvisibleEdame
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Posts: 1,270
Loc: outta here
Re: 5 yrs in prison awaiting trial, acquitted in 15 mins [Re: luvdemshrooms]
    #1638141 - 06/16/03 08:30 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

That depends on the context :smile:  I was merely expressing an interest in what your opinion of this story might be.


--------------------
The above is an extract from my fictional novel, "The random postings of Edame".
:tongue:

In the beginning was the word. And man could not handle the word, and the hearing of the word, and he asked God to take away his ears so that he might live in peace without having to hear words which might upset his equinamity or corrupt the unblemished purity of his conscience.

And God, hearing this desperate plea from His creation, wrinkled His mighty brow for a moment and then leaned down toward man, beckoning that he should come close so as to hear all that was about to be revealed to him.

"Fuck you," He whispered, and frowned upon the pathetic supplicant before retreating to His heavens.


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OfflineBaby_Hitler
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Re: 5 yrs in prison awaiting trial, acquitted in 15 mins [Re: luvdemshrooms]
    #1638195 - 06/16/03 09:05 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

I don't care.


--------------------


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OfflineAzmodeus
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Re: 5 yrs in prison awaiting trial, acquitted in 15 mins [Re: Phred]
    #1639511 - 06/17/03 01:38 PM (13 years, 5 months ago)

Quote:

If the courts weren't so clogged with victimless "crime" prosecutions (drugs, prostitution, gambling, etc.), there would be no need for these kind of games.




So true....
:frown:


--------------------
"Know your Body - Know your Mind - Know your Substance - Know your Source.

Lest we forget. "


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