Breaking update: According to The National Registry of Exonerations (here), the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office dismissed the charges against Stanley Wrice today, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2013. Wrice is the most recent of 1,260 exonerations since 1989 now documented on the Registry.
Cook County Judge Richard Walsh has ordered a new trial for Stanley Wrice, 59, who was released from prison on Wednesday after serving 30 years for a 1982 sexual assault he has always claimed he did not commit. He is one of many inmates, mostly black, who said that they were tortured by Chicago police working under former Lt. Jon Burge.
According to an AP report filed by Don Babwin and M. Spencer Green (here), Wrice, who was sentenced to 100 years in prison, claimed officers beat him in the groin and face with a flashlight and a 20-inch piece of rubber to force his confession. Wrice’s lawyer said that other inmates have described the same tools and treatment utilized by Chicago police to force confessions or false testimony against defendants.
Judge Walsh also heard from a witness in the case who said he was tortured into giving false testimony against Wrice at trial. In overturning Wrice’s conviction the judge said that police had lied about how they had treated Wrice during their interrogation.
Special prosecutor, retired Judge Stuart Nudelman, has not indicated whether or not he will drop the charges against Wrice.
As reported in the AP report story, Wrice’s case had been appealed all the way to the Illinois Supreme Court. In granting Wrice a hearing, the high court ruled that, regardless of other evidence against a defendant, a physically coerced confession could never be dismissed as “harmless error.” See the opinion (here).
Wrice’s release and granting of a new trial bode well for other inmates who have made similar claims of torture by Chicago police.
Meanwhile, defense attorneys are preparing to argue that a judge should certify inmates with torture claims as a class to enable a class-action lawsuit against the city of Chicago, which has already paid more than $80 million in such cases.