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Ralph E. Meczyk has tried over one hundred and fifty jury trials to verdict in both State and Federal District Courts throughout the United States. He has also tried hundreds of bench/judge trials, motions to suppress evidence, and motions to quash arrests in those same venues.
Mr. Meczyk is one of a select group of highly qualified lawyers to be certified by the Illinois Supreme Court as lead counsel in death penalty cases. Illinois has since abolished the death penalty. In addition to his over 30 years in the practice of criminal law and extensive trial work, Mr. Meczyk has exceptional appellate court experience.
Mr. Meczyk represented one of the defendants in the nationally covered Family Secrets mob trial where he was lead counsel for Mr. Anthony Doyle.
Recently, Mr. Meczyk represented Mr. Christopher Figueroa in a state prosecution for first degree murder. Mr. Figueroa was previously convicted of this gang shooting after a trial in 2004. However, Mr. Meczyk continued to fight for his client. He successfully argued Mr. Figueroa's appeal and due to Mr. Meczyk's efforts, Mr. Figueroa was granted a new trial. In the second trial, Mr. Meczyk, along with Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Cheronis, continued the zealous representation of Mr. Figueroa, who was found not guilty. As a result of Mr. Meczyk's tireless efforts, Mr. Figueroa left the courthouse a free man.
He briefed and argued a landmark search and seizure case (Illinois v. Caballes) before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2004.
Additionally, Mr. Meczyk has argued in almost every U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals throughout the country.
Notable Cases and Results:
- People v. Peterson. Police charged former Bolingbrook police officer Drew Peterson with the murder of his third wife, Kathleen Savio, whose death was deemed an accident, after his fourth wife, Stacy Peterson, disappeared, despite the fact that there was no DNA or other physical evidence linking Peterson to Savio's death. At the criminal trial, Mr. Meczyk delivered what The Chicago Sun-Times called a long, aggressive, technical, and scientific interrogation, in which he was able to force the prosecution's medical expert to admit that three different physicians disagreed with the assessment that Savio was murdered. Unfortunately, after the first chair attorney critical decision to call Stacy Peterson's divorce attorney as a witness, Drew Peterson was convicted of murder based on hearsay evidence alone.
- Family Secrets Trial. In the high-profile Family Secrets trial of the Chicago Outfit, the infamous mob group run by Frank Calabrese, and, earlier, Al Capone, Mr. Meczyk represented police officer Anthony Doyle. As The Chicago Tribune noted, "Deciding Anthony Doyle's punishment didn't really come down to whether he was a good cop or an Outfit handyman... In fact, Doyle might have been both." Mr. Meczyk fought prosecutors' description of Doyle as a sleeper agent for the mob, which ultimately helped to reduce his prison sentence from 20 to 12 years.
- United States v. Carlisi. Mr. Meczyk represented Brett O'Dell, a member of the notorious Carlisi Street Crew, which conducted various organized criminal activities under the supervision of the Chicago Outfit. Mr. O'Dell was acquitted of the major RICO charges.
- People v. Dowaliby. The murder of 7-year-old Jacyln Dowaliby shocked the small suburban town of Midlothian, IL. Both Jacyln's parents, Cynthia and David Dowaliby, were tried for their daughter's murder. While Mrs. Dowaliby's charges were dismissed, Mr. Dowaliby was convicted of 1st degree murder based only on the testimony of a bi-polar witness who had seen someone with Mr. Dowaliby's nose structure in an unlit parking lot on the night of the crime and on evidence that a window in the family home was broken from the inside, which forensic experts later disproved. The case was reversed outright for insufficiency of the evidence based on Mr. Mecyzk's trial record.
- People v. Ratliff. As reported in The Chicago Tribune, Mr. Ratliff "was charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery, and solicitation to commit murder in the shooting of his girlfriend's lover on Halloween in 1990. But before the start of Ratliff's trial in Cook County Criminal Court, prosecutors elected to drop the attempted murder and aggravated battery charges and proceed only on the solicitation charge.
"After prosecutors finished presenting their evidence, Meczyk put Ratliff on the stand to deny he had asked anyone to kill the victim, who had recovered from a bullet wound. 'I was the one who did the shooting,' Ratliff said.
"The jury, whose members included a Glenview police officer, deliberated about four hours before returning a verdict of not guilty."
- People v. Alex Huitron. Mr. Huitron was charged with attempted first-degree murder, aggravated discharge of a firearm, and other offenses where the alleged victim was shot 9 times. Mr. Meczyk and Mr. Goldberg represented Mr. Huitron at trial, and after Mr. Meczyk and Mr. Goldberg exposed the outright lies in the witnesses' testimony, Mr. Huitron was found NOT GUILTY and avoided spending decades in prison.
- People v. Zabala. Mr. Zabala was charged with possession with intent to deliver over a quarter kilogram of cocaine and faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 9 years in prison. Mr. Meczyk and Mr. Goldberg filed a motion to suppress evidence and quash arrest, arguing that the police officers violated Mr. Zabala's rights when they detained and searched the car he was in. Mr. Meczyk and Mr. Goldberg used a computer expert to blow up surveillance photographs to show that the police officer was in a position where he would be unable to see what he claimed gave him a basis to stop Mr. Zabala. After a lengthy hearing the judge granted Mr. Zabala's motion and excluded the evidence against him. The prosecution has appealed the Court's ruling and Mr. Zabala was released on a signature bond.
- People v. Gillespie. Mr. Gillespie was charged with possession with the intent to deliver approximately 1.5 kilograms of cocaine after Bartlett police officers executed a search warrant on his home. Ralph E. Meczyk & Associates filed Motions to Suppress Statements that were allegedly made after his arrest. Given the quantity of cocaine, Mr. Gillespie was facing a minimum of 15 years in prison (which he would be required to serve at least 75% of any prison sentence), and given his criminal history, he faced the likelihood of even more prison time. Mr. Meczyk and Mr. Goldberg diligently prepared for the hearing on their motion, and prepared a "blow up" version of Mr. Gillespie's alleged statement. At the hearing, Mr. Meczyk cross-examined a Bartlett Detective about the promises he made to Mr. Gillespie, using the "blow up" of the statement or confession. After the cross-examination, the prosecution drastically reduced the charges and offered Mr. Gillespie a deal where he would plead guilty to a lesser charge and be sentenced to 5 years in prison (which he would serve at 50%), a deal he gladly accepted.
- United States v. Weir. The Government charged Rickey E. Weir with 16 counts of mail fraud, Medicare, and Medicaid Fraud, as well as a count under the Federal False Claims Act. Based on these charges, Mr. Weir faced a likely sentence of 20 years imprisonment after a trial and several millions of dollars in fines. Prior to trial, the government offered only a plea that contained nothing less than a savage sentence and still subjected Mr. Weir to significant financial penalties.
Mr. Meczyk recommended that Mr. Weir proceed to trial. In the second week of the government's case in chief, Mr. Meczyk conducted a vigorous cross-examination of the government's star witness, Dr. Steven Boren, Medical Director for Medicare Part B for Illinois, Wisconsin, and Iowa. After Mr. Meczyk's cross-examination, the government returned with an astounding offer. Mr. Weir pled guilty to one count of mail fraud, and received an unprecedented acceptance of responsibility credit, at mid- trial. Additionally, the government settled the civil case against Mr. Weir for only $100,000.
- United States v. AG. AG owned an auto parts supply store and was charged with participating in a fraudulent kick-back scheme which involved the intangible right to honest services, where AG paid kick-backs to Village of Bolingbrook officials in exchange for city business. AG was facing an advisory sentence of 46-57 months imprisonment. Mr. Meczyk and Mr. Goldberg vigorously argued for a departure under the advisory sentencing guidelines, and the federal judge agreed. AG was sentenced to only 17 months.
- People v. Figueroa. At his first trial in 2004, Mr. Figueroa was charged and convicted of first degree murder. However, Mr. Meczyk and Mr. Goldberg, continued to fight for their client. After a successful appeal, a new trial was ordered. This time, Mr. Figueroa was found not guilty. Due to the relentless efforts of Ralph E. Meczyk & Associates, Mr. Figueroa, after spending almost eight years in prison, left the courthouse a free man.
- People v. Silva. Ralph E. Meczyk & Associates represented Mr. Silva after he was arrested in Cicero, Illinois for domestic battery of a child. Following the arrest, the police alleged that Mr. Silva confessed to the crime. Ralph E. Meczyk & Associates moved to suppress the confession based on the illegality of the arrest. The Court suppressed the confession holding that, because the arrest was warrantless and without probable cause, the subsequent confession was inadmissible. The prosecution proceeded to trial and Mr. Silva was found not guilty.
- People v. Goss. Mr. Goss was arrested for attempted burglary and violating an order of protection in Will County. An eyewitness placed Goss at the scene attempting to enter the residence. Ralph E. Meczyk & Associates tried the case and Mr. Goss was acquitted.
- People v. Fajks. Mr. Fajks was charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver over 2000 pills of ecstasy and possession of several stolen motor vehicles, all Class X felonies.
After a lengthy hearing on a Motion to Suppress Evidence tried by Mr. Meczyk, the Criminal Court Judge in DuPage County, held that the Special Task Force that conducted the search and gathered the evidence had arrested Mr. Fajks without probable cause. Because the arrest was illegal, the Court held, the subsequent search that uncovered the contraband was also illegal. A task force made up of four law enforcement agencies had contributed to the investigation and arrest. After the Motion to Suppress Evidence was granted, the State could not proceed to trial and all charges were dismissed.
- People v. Gilzene. In a state prosecution of a drug case for possession of cocaine, Mr. Meczyk and Mr. Goldberg, filed a Motion to Suppress the drugs. After a hearing on the motion, the judge suppressed the drugs and the State's Attorney dropped the charges.
- People v. Hamid. In a state prosecution of a drug case, where Mr. Hamid was charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, Mr. Meczyk and Mr. Goldberg filed a Motion to Produce an Alleged Informer. The state did not produce the alleged informer and the case was dismissed.
- USA v. Ramirez. After a hotly contested hearing on a Motion to Suppress Evidence litigated by Mr. Meczyk and Mr. Goldberg, the Federal District Court Judge held that the FBI violated Mr. Ramirez's constitutional rights under the 4th Amendment, and he suppressed the cellular phone and its records that the FBI illegally seized. Mr. Ramirez was charged with a drug conspiracy that involved cocaine and heroin. According to the Government, the telephone records linked Mr. Ramirez to a vast criminal drug conspiracy. The FBI informer and a co-defendant were going to testify against Mr. Ramirez at trial. However, after Mr. Meczyk and Mr. Goldberg won the Motion to Suppress, the Government concluded that it could not proceed to trial without the suppressed evidence and dismissed all charges against Mr. Ramirez.
- People v. Marchan. The prosecutor was forced to dismiss charges that included half a Kilo of cocaine, 50 lb of cannabis and 3 guns. After Mr. Meczyk and Mr. Goldberg successfully argued a Motion to Quash the Search Warrant (Franks Hearing), the judge ordered the prosecutor to reveal the name of an informer. The prosecutor claimed that the informer was dead and the charges against Mr. Marchan were dismissed.
- People v. Sanchez. Mr. Sanchez was charged with possession with Intent to deliver 24 Kilos of cocaine. A jury found Mr. Sanchez NOT GUILTY. Two other co-defendants pled guilty before trial and received 8 years. Mr. Sanchez proceeded to trial, and after a week long trial, a jury returned a verdict of NOT GUILTY.
The police alleged that Mr. Sanchez orchestrated a 24-kilo drug transaction. Three others were involved in the transaction, and the police conducted surveillance while Mr. Sanchez and the others were allegedly transferring a car tire full of the cocaine from one car to another. At trial, however, Mr. Meczyk and Mr. Goldberg established that the police did not recover any fingerprints that will show that Mr. Sanchez was involved. The police did not find or recover the alleged car that Mr. Sanchez drove. In sum, although the police were allegedly watching Mr. Sanchez very closely, the officers could not come up with one piece of evidence that will link Mr. Sanchez to the other 3 co-defendants - not even a picture was taken during the surveillance.
- People v. Delgadillo & Godoy. Mr. Delgadillo and Mr. Godoy were stopped for a traffic violation on a highway near Springfield, MO. They were later arrested for transporting about 70 lb of cocaine inside the gas tank of the car. Mr. Meczyk and Mr. Goldberg represented Mr. Godoy and Mr. Delgadillo. After filing a Motion to Suppress the evidence and Quash the illegal arrest, the prosecutor dismissed all charges against both Mr. Delgadillo and Mr. Godoy.
- People v. Caballes. The defendant, Mr. Caballes, was convicted following bench trial in the Circuit Court, La Salle County, by the Honorable Chris Ryan, Jr., of cannabis trafficking. Mr. Caballes appealed. The Appellate Court affirmed and granted petition for leave to appeal. Justice Kilbride of the Supreme Court then held that the canine sniff during which the dog was alerted to marijuana in the trunk of the car unjustifiably expanded the scope of a traffic stop for speeding.
The judgments against Mr. Caballes were all reversed.
- Northbrook Hazing Incident. Due to the work of Mr. Meczyk, an accused party in the Northbrook hazing incident was able to obtain a minimal supervision sentence which was not considered a conviction.
- People v. Zavalza. In a state prosecution of a drug case where more than 300 kilograms of marijuana were seized, the defendant was charged with a Class X felony and faced at least a 6 year sentence. Mr. Meczyk filed a Motion to Suppress the drugs. Upon review of the Motion, the State's Attorney conceded and reduced the charges. The defendant was freed and received 2 years probation.
- People v. Rosenberg. The defendant was convicted in the 13th Judicial Circuit Court, LaSalle County, by the Honorable Chris Ryan, Jr., of controlled substance trafficking. The defendant appealed. In the Appellate Court, Judge Lytton held that: (1) the state's failure to grant immunity to its witness at the suppression hearing denied the defendant the due process right to fully and meaningfully present his defense, and (2) the state's refusal to grant immunity to its witness at the suppression hearing was a harmful error.
- United States v. Guzman. In this case, Mr. Meczyk persuaded U.S. District Court Judge Zagel during a long sentencing hearing to sentence the defendant to 10 years, rather than the recommended 24 years.
- State v. Macias. A judge at 26th and California suppressed 12 kilos of marijuana after a Motion to Suppress argued by Mr Meczyk.
- State v. Huertas. After a bench trial Mr. Huerta was found not guilty of a battery.
- People v. Abadia and Arias. The defendants, Abadia and Arias, were convicted in the Circuit Court, Cook County, by Judge John Moran of first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, aggravated battery with a firearm, and armed violence. The defendants appealed. In the Appellate Court, Judge Cohen held that: (1) evidence was sufficient to support convictions; (2) in a matter of first impression, trial court's inadvertent failure to administer juror's oath until conclusion of first day of testimony did not warrant a new trial; but (3) prosecutor's misconduct during rebuttal closing argument constituted reversible error.
The judgment against Abadia and Arias was reversed and remanded.
- U.S.A. vs. Herrera-Corral. On May 17, 2001, defendants, Herrera-Corral ("Herrera-Corral"), and Robles-Ortega ("Robles-Ortega"), were indicted for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession with intent to distribute cocaine, in violation of 21 U.S .C. § § 841(a)(1) and 846, and 18 U.S.C. § 2. Mr. Meczyk filed a Motion to Suppress evidence seized on the day of their arrest. This case was reversed based on this motion.
- Federal Forfeiture. In a highly unusual federal forfeiture case out of Ohio, for a large sum of money, Mr. Meczyk obtained a significant portion of the original sum returned.
- Criminal Case. In a state prosecution of a drug case, over 100 grams of cocaine (a Class X Felony with a minimum of 6 years) were seized. The defendant was charged with a Class X felony and faced at least a 6 year sentence. Mr. Meczyk filed a Motion to Suppress the drugs. Upon review of the Motion, the State's Attorney reduced the charges and the defendant received 2 years probation.
- Illinois v. Martinez. Mr. Meczyk hung a jury, 9 to 3 in favor of Not Guilty, in a murder case where their client confessed to the murder and gave the police a 5 page written confession.
Illinois Bar, 1977
U.S. District for the Northern District of Illinois, 1982
Illinois Capital Litigation Trial Bar (1st Chair), 2002
Federal Trial Bar, 1983
U.S. Court of Appeals, 7th Circuit
United States Supreme Court, 2004 (briefed and argued Illinois v. Caballes)
Admitted to U.S. Court of Appeals for the following Circuits:
11th, 9th, 8th, 6th, and 5th
Admitted to practice and has litigated and tried juries in the United States District Courts for the following Districts:
United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 2005
Florida, Middle and Southern Districts
New Jersey, Northern District
Connecticut, Eastern and Western Districts
Washington, Eastern District (Pasco, WA)
Wisconsin, Eastern and Western Districts
Michigan, Eastern District
California, Central District
Ohio, Northern and Southern Districts
Georgia, Northern District
Texas, Southern District
Illinois, Central and Southern Districts
Iowa, Eastern District
Admitted Pro Hac Vice and has litigated cases in the following states:
Law School: Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago-Kent College of Law, J.D., 1977
Undergraduate School: Loyola University Chicago, B.A., 1973
- Private Practice, 1982-present - practice concentrated in white collar criminal defense, major felonies, and criminal appeals (state and federal)
- Illinois Supreme Court, Capital Litigation Trial Bar, 1st Chair, 2002 for death penalty cases
- United States Federal Defender's Office, Northern District of Illinois, panel member (appointed to cases and trial counsel by the U.S. District Court), 1986
- Cook County, Assistant Cook County Public Defender, 1977-1982
- Illinois Army National Guard, 1970-1976, Spec.4, honorable discharge
Bar/Professional Association Involvement:
- National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- Illinois Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
- Moot Court Judge and Coach, Chicago Kent College of Law, 2007
Awards; Honors; Distinctions:
- Leading Lawyers Network Member selected by peers in Criminal Appellate Law, Criminal Defense Law: Felonies & Misdemeanors, and Criminal Defense Law: White Collar
Legal Lectures: "Killer Cross Examination," Chicago Bar Association, 1994
Search and Seizure Seminar, Chicago Bar Association, 2007
Featured speaker, Chicago Bar Association, Constitutional Law Committee,
If someone has told you, "This is not a winnable case," then call criminal defense attorney Ralph Meczyk at Ralph E. Meczyk & Associates in Chicago, Illinois. When we are not defending a client in the courtroom, we are studying and creating ways to win future cases.
Criminal Defense Lawyers - Fierce, Tough, Aggressive
Contact Us - 312.445.9032
What makes a successful criminal defense trial lawyer? At our law firm, it means we never take winning for granted and we work every day to extend and expand our legal skills.
We wrote the book - and keep rewriting. Our trial notebook is a collection of some of the best cross-examinations in the country. We study them, refine them, use them, and refine them again. Our clients benefit from our constant pursuit of excellence.
Our preparation is relentless. When we walk into a courtroom, we know every detail of the evidence and can usually anticipate what the other side's witnesses will testify to. We are prepared, because we know our client's freedom is on the line in every case we handle.
We handle the big cases. Criminal defense attorney Ralph Meczyk has represented clients throughout the United States. Lawyers nationwide and their clients know our reputation for fighting aggressively. Our first goal is a dismissal or "not guilty" verdict.
If it is a tough criminal defense case, we are the law firm to call.
The criminal defense cases we have taken to trial include white-collar crimes, drug offenses, robbery, assault, murder, sex offenses (Internet crimes), firearms offenses, racketeering, and public corruption. We represent clients in grand jury proceedings and in appeals.