Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Patterson Trial Begins with Exciting Opening Arguments

The government and the defense in the case of USA v. Patterson finally gave their opening statements today, after two weeks of delay because of courtroom outbursts from the co-defendant Aaron Patterson and later his reluctant attorney, Demetrius Evans. On Friday, Evans burst out that she didn't want to be a part of the trial and packed up and left the courtroom. Tommy Brewer has replaced Evans. It's been a strange case and has connections to George Ryan and Northwestern University's famous investigative journalism class that has led to commutations of many death sentecnes in Illinois. Here's a bit more information:

Patterson served 17 years in state prison, 13 on death row, for a double murder. As one of Ryan's last acts before leaving office in 2003, he pardoned Patterson and three other death row inmates while commuting the sentences of 160 other condemned prisoners to life without parole.

Ryan, who said he was acting out of concern over a system that sent 13 wrongly convicted prisoners to death row, declared that none of the evidence against Patterson was credible.

Patterson left prison vowing to devote his life to exposing police misconduct.

"He emerged from prison a changed man, a man with a mission," who was intent on exposing police corruption, defense attorney Paul Camarena told jurors in his opening statement.

...Last week, Patterson sent word that he wanted to return to court and U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer scheduled an 8:30 a.m. Tuesday meeting to see if he would behave himself. But he boycotted that meeting and did not use a closed-circuit TV installed so that he could watch from behind bars.

I think everyone in the Dirksen building has now heard about this trial, because the line was the first one I've really seen for a trial where people had to be turned away. I was lucky enough to get to sit in though. (Hint: Get there early!)

Patterson's old attorney, Evans, was actually in the courtroom watching opening statements. I suppose she came because Judge Pallmeyer said she can still advise Patterson though she is not his main counsel.

Everyone had seemingly good open arguments; the prosecution made Patterson look like a conscientious drug conspirator with assurance they could prove he did what he is accused of doing did when they say he did it; the defense made Patterson look like a man out to prove that the government has some sneaky ways of roping criminals. We'll see where this leads.

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