Sunday, December 27, 2009

No justice in Wisconsin

Guilty without trial

The state Claims Board has rejected a request for compensation from a man who said he was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault along with two other men in 2000.

Jarrett Adams spent seven years in prison until a federal appeals court overturned his conviction and ordered a new trial in Jefferson County. The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Adams' attorney had been ineffective because he failed to introduce a defense witness who testified at the trial of one of his co-defendants that the alleged victim was seen chatting amiably with the three suspects after the alleged attack occurred. That case resulted in a hung jury.

Jefferson County District Attorney David Wambach declined to prosecute Adams a second time for the assault, which allegedly occurred in 1998 at UW-Whitewater.

Wambach urged the board to reject the request, arguing that the reversal of Adams' conviction doesn't mean he's innocent. In its summary, the claims board said Wambach, who is now an assistant attorney general, didn't pursue a retrial "in deference to the wishes of the victim, who did not want to relive the trauma of the sexual assault."

The board concluded in its decision, released Dec. 17, that "the evidence is not clear and convincing that the claimant was innocent of the crime for which he suffered imprisonment."

Adams, of South Holland, Ill., had been seeking the maximum $25,000 reimbursement for wrongful conviction plus $56,111 in attorneys fees.

Keith Findley of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, which represented Adams in his successful appeal, reacted strongly to the decision.

"This is a very unfortunate turn of events and highlights that Wisconsin's system for compensating the wrongly convicted is woefully inadequate," Findley said. "It was bad enough that the state wrongly convicted Jarrett, deprived him of years of freedom for a crime that important new evidence says he did not commit, but now it adds insult to injury by completely turning its back on him when he seeks assistance to get back on his feet and tries to reclaim some of what the state took from him."

Original report here

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