Delhey Vs. Ryan
Old Adversaries To Battle For Collins’ Freedom
By William B. Treml
(News Police Reporter)
The murder trial of John Norman Collins, when it does occur, will pit two old adversaries who have matched wits and legal skill in courtroom battles many times before.
New England-bred Richard W. Ryan, Collins’ defense counsel, is soft-spoken, thoughtful, slow to anger and with almost three decades of law practice behind him.
Somber, stern, dedicated Prosecuting Attorney William
F. Delhey, who will try to send Collins to prison for life, has a courtroom reputation for relentlessness and cold, un-swering logic.
Both men are silver-haired, articulate and striking in appearance in a courtroom.
And both will soon be battling over the freedom of a 22-year-old Eastern Michigan University senior who the state claims killed EMU coed Karen Sue Beineman last July.
Richard Ryan, “Dick” to his friends, “Smokey” to his intimates, is a lawyer’s lawyer. Quiet and unassuming, the World War II combat hero is not given to courtroom pyrotechics nor Darrow-style bursts of oratory.
Instead, for his success he relies on a low-keyed, almost off-hand manner, so loaded with logic and laced with “common sense” that opposing lawyers wince and juries stir and listen.
Ryan is a lawyer who long ago became sold on the “expert witness.” In major cases he has been known to bring in a dozen professionals in a given field, carefully drawing from each witness the technical tidbits with which he meticulously builds his case.
William F. Delhey
In many ways Ryan’s style resembles that of the late Joseph N. Welch, the master trial lawyer from Massachusetts who in 1954 represented the Army in the precedent-setting Army-McCarthy hear-
ings. It is not a chair-shaking style, not an approach that thunders and shouts and pleads. But it is a style which gradually, quietly, surely wins cases.
“Bill” Delhey, horseman, hunter, fisherman, is a math-
Richard W. Ryan
ematician by trade.
He majored in math at the University 22 years ago and used it later as an industrial relations expert with the Ford Motor Co. while attending night classes at the University of
Detroit Law School. When he was admitted to the Michigan bar in 1955 Bill Delhey put away his math but never forgot its’ logic.
Perhaps that’s why he is so formidable an opponent in a criminal courtroom. Bill Delhey is a man who gathers all his proofs together, wraps them with a heavy cord of logic and then descends on a criminal court jury with the verve and righteousness of an avenging angel.
Many is the defense counsel who sought to stem the Delhey tide with pleas for mercy, understanding or compassion only to be swept over the precipice of conviction with a flood of cold-eyed logic delivered by the austere mathamatician-turned-lawyer.
If Dick Ryan carries the image of a Joseph Welch into the courtroom, Bill Delhey is an almost-angry Sepncer Tracy as he bites out questions, peevishly cross examines, snaps out objections.
The two lawyers are well-matched.
And so they were nine years ago when Ryan defended Jerald L. Wingeart, the 20-year-old University student, charged
with raping a blind girl and robbing her escort. Delhey at that time was an assistant prosecutor who presented the state’s case in the week-long trial with such skill that a battery of defense psychiatrists were virtually brushed aside by the late Judge James R. Breakey Jr. in his finding of guilty.
“The theory of psychiatrists will not serve as a substitute for the function of this court,” Judge Breakey said.
He sentenced the blond-haired Wingeart to 10 to 30 years in prison on the two felonies.
But that was eight years ago.
Now there is another capital crime and again Bill Delhey and Dick Ryan find themselves on opposite sides of the counsel table. And again, lying between them, at stake in this grim battle called a criminal trial, is a young man’s freedom.
They both want a victory— this tireless prosecutor and the quiet, deliberate defense counsel.
But, as it was back in 1961, only one will win.
And when it is over the loser will close his brief case and walk slowly out of the court room to another trial, another battle for some man’s freedom.
William B. Treml
University of Detroit Law School
Ford Motor Company
Crime & Criminals
Ann Arbor News
Ann Arbor News
William F. Delhey
Richard W. "Smokey" Ryan
Karen Sue Beineman
John Norman Collins
Jerald L. Wingeart
James R. Breakey Jr.