There was a potential victory for Stanley Wrice, the imprisoned man who says former Chicago police commander Jon Burge tortured him in 1982 and was wrongfully convicted. At the Chicago criminal courts building at 26th and California today, Judge Paul Biebel referred the Wrice case to Chief Cook County Circuit Judge, Timothy Evans.
Lawyers representing Rice want Evans to recommend a change in venue. Because Wrice’s lawyers say they can’t get a fair trial in Cook County.
“I think it’s a very good sign,” said Jennifer Bonjean, chief counsel to Stanley Wrice. “And I’m hopeful Judge Evans will agree this needs to be out of the county.”
Wrice supporters say there’s no reason he should still be in prison.
“There’s no longer any question of Stanley Wrices’ innocence,” says David Protess of the Chicago Innocence Project. “So why is he still in jail after 31 years?”
Wrice says back in 1982 he was tortured by then Area 2 Commander Jon Burge, which led to a false confession and conviction for rape. Burge himself was convicted and imprisoned in 2011 for obstructing justice and lying to investigators about torture allegations. Special prosecutors concluded Burge coerced dozens of confessions.
But when it comes to presenting evidence that could set Wrice free, his lawyers say the 60-year-old inmate can’t get a fair hearing in Cook County – because too many judges know the man who could be subpoenaed to testify under oath, former Chicago mayor, Richard M. Daley.
“Daley has never voluntarily showed up for the depositions he’s been noticed for in these Burge matters,” said Bonjean. “We know he doesn’t want to testify on these matters. But he may be forced to.”
Bojean claims there’s ample evidence to show Daley, then the Cook County State’s attorney, knew about the torture at Area 2 but failed to stop it.
WGN tried to reach the former mayor for reaction to the allegation that he knew about the torture at Area 2. A spokesperson says Daley isn’t commenting. But in the past, he’s said that if compelled to testify, he stands ready to take the stand.