Patrick Thompson’s Conviction Overturned

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Patrick Thompson’s new attorneys Robert Kirchner and
Ruth Wyman recently had a major victory in the campaign
to clear his name. They overturned the guilty verdict
of a man who was wrongly convicted – they did this
without DNA testing and before years were served in
prison. In 99% of cases, these attempts are unsuccessful,
indicating the uniqueness of Thompson’s case.
On April 24, 2007, Judge Harry Clem handed down a
decision to grant a new trial to black activist Patrick
Thompson. This could result in a third trial. Thompson’s
supporters demand that Special Prosecutor Michael
Vujovich drop all charges and not spend one more cent
of taxpayer money on this flimsy case.
In downstate Illinois, an environment of sundown
towns and law-and-order Republicans, the police are as
brutal as in Chicago. Here in Urbana-Champaign, the
black community is kept segregated from the University
of Illinois campus and is heavily policed. Starting a cop
watch program in 2004, Thompson captured local police
on videotape as they arrived in “arrest mode” when dealing
with the black community. For his media activism, the
local authorities have come down hard on Thompson.
In July 2006, Thomspon was found guilty of home
invasion and sexual abuse. A 2005 trial in which Thompson
defended himself pro se had ended in a mistrial. The
guilty verdict in the second trial carried a sentence of 6-
30 years. Thompson’s supporters say the state never presented
any evidence or witnesses, and that this case was
retribution for his political activism.
Patrick Thompson, along with Martel Miller, is cofounder
of VEYA (Visionaries Educating Youth and
Adults). The two currently have a $15 million law suit
against the police departments of Champaign and Urbana,
as well as the Sheriff’s Department and the administration
of the previous State’s Attorney, for illegally pursuing
charges of felony eavesdropping. In 2004, Thompson and
Miller were videotaping police and out of their footage
produced the documentary Citizen’s Watch. The day after
the first eavesdropping charges were filed, on August 24,
2004, Thompson was accused of sexual abuse and home
invasion by a white woman and arrested by Urbana police.
After Thompson was found guilty in July 2006, attorneys
Bob Kirchner and Ruth Wyman took up his case.
They filed a 90 page motion for a new trial, backed up by
800 examples of case law. Additional witnesses also testified
in two days of court hearings. The basis of the
request for a new trial was ineffective counsel, contradictory
statements made by the accuser, and additional evidence
that has not been heard by a jury.
Kirchner and Wyman are to be commended for their
heroic efforts to save Thompson from the clutches of the
Champaign County criminal justice system.
The Thompson family is very happy with the decision.
But they should not have to live one more day with the
threat of a third trial.
Special Prosecutor Vujovich should DROP ALL
CHARGES!
For coverage of the post-trial hearings see ucimc.org:
http://www.ucimc.org/node/712 and http://www.ucimc.org/
node/922

About Brian Dolinar

Brian Dolinar has been a community journalist since 2004.
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