Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Hailing an unsung hero: Mark Dooley

Keith Williams was convicted yesterday of second degree sexual assault and false imprisonment following an eight-day jury trial.

It's the second time that Williams, a Chicago resident, was convicted of this cowardly assault on a young woman.

His earlier conviction in March of 2003 was set aside by the presiding judge in that case -- Wilbur W. Warren III -- who granted a defense motion for a new trial. The Court of Appeals affirmed Warren, a legal journey that took over two years and clearly made life more miserable for the victim and her family.

It's axiomatic in the legal profession that cases rarely improve with age and when this case came up again it seemed like an uphill battle. Keith Williams must have been smiling then. But Williams never met Mark Dooley.

The case was transferred to another judge, S. Michael Wilk. Dooley, a veteran prosecutor, works in Wilk's courtroom and inherited the Williams case.

Dooley spent hundreds of hours -- much of it on his own time -- reviewing the old case. Instead of giving up on what may have seemed to many to be a sinking ship Dooley pressed on and the results of new scientific testing breathed new life into the prosecution. He fought -- and fought hard -- to prove what turned out in many ways to be a new case before a new judge, a new jury and even a new defense attorney.

This hard work paid off when the new jury returned its verdicts yesterday.

The Kenosha News chose to focus its attention on a couple of high profile cases -- the neverending Mark Jensen homicide case and the home invasion and sexual assault trial of Charles Williams (which also resulted in guilty verdicts on ten charges yesterday thanks to the aggressive prosecution of District Attorney Robert D. Zapf) -- with nary a word about the Keith Williams case.

That's too bad.

The public deserves to know about the dedication and hard work of Mark Dooley who took up a challenge others may well have avoided and pursued justice. And in so doing Dooley deserves this community's thanks.

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