from BUNTE magazine
The accused rises from the dock. He may now speak the last word in this main hearing. It’s about a murder for which he has already been convicted in two instances. The accused looks at his lawyer and says: „ Ms. Rick – you are just a great person.”
Ms. Rick – this is criminal defense attorney Regina Rick, 54, making judicial history right now. As probably the most persistent lawyer in Germany. She brings out a man who was innocently imprisoned for 13 years, 23 weeks and six days.
Victim of one of the biggest mistakes in German judicial history. Without HER, HE would still be in prison. The defense attorney fought for his release for ten years. Mostly free of charge.
“I was always convinced of his innocence”
“I was always convinced of his innocence,” says Regina Rick. “And that’s why the case never let go of me.”
In May 2010, the Munich Regional Court sentenced the then 49-year-old father, Manfred Genditzki, to life imprisonment for murder. The court considers it proven that the caretaker hit the old lady after an argument. To cover up the crime, he drowned her in the bathtub. Genditzki protests his innocence. But he was also convicted in the second main hearing.
Then “Mrs. Rick” takes care of the matter. She had just won a retrial in another spectacular murder case that attracted international attention. The retrial – that is the supreme discipline in criminal law. Applications are rarely granted. “Mrs. Rick” can do it. Now the bathtub murder.
Conversation with the star lawyer. She says: “My fellow lawyers had strongly advised me against this case. They said: keep your hands off it. That won’t work. One said: Write to Genditzki that you cannot help him.”
Rick comes from a Bavarian academic family
She accepts the case, although she is aware that she will hardly make any money with this client. Genditzki had had to file for personal bankruptcy in prison, and his family would not be able to pay for it.
Why did she do it anyway? “I read the verdict and immediately saw how outrageous it was. What Mr. Genditzki was accused of, could not have been done by a Russian contract killer in the short time given. I was convinced that he could never have committed the crime. And if I’m convinced of something, I’ll do it. It’s hard for me to lose.”
She comes from a Bavarian academic family. After graduating from high school, she happens to be studying law because she doesn’t really know where her career path should lead. Until criminal law ties her up in her first traineeship. After the state examination, she immediately opened her own law firm.
Friends describe her as spirited, with a strong sense of humor and a penchant for plain language. A woman with a recognizable zest for life. In her free time, she reads crime novels and loves classical music. Jogs with her dog, gym twice a week.
Rick Provides New Facts About ‘Bathtub Murder’
But if she puts on the black robe, she is a different person. Completely unyielding, tough as nails, combative to the point of self-abandonment. “If Regina Rick does take a step back,” says a fellow attorney, “it’s only to get a run-up.”
When she spoke to the responsible public prosecutor about the application for reopening, he only laughed at her contemptuously. And arrogantly want to make it clear to her that she has no chance anyway. She says to herself: “So – and you will lose now.”
That’s how it happens. Regina Rick provides new facts on the “bathtub murder”. A computer simulation to find the body. And a thermodynamic report that determines the exact time of death of the victim. This makes it clear: Genditzki now has an alibi, he cannot be the perpetrator. And is acquitted.
The legendary Hamburg criminal defense attorney Dr. Gerhard Strate – revered by colleagues as the pope of retrial – says: “Never before has the Bavarian judiciary lifted a life sentence by way of retrial and replaced it with an acquittal because of proven innocence. This is a historic achievement that is due solely to the perseverance of my colleague Regina Rick. She paved the way for truth and freedom.”
She is often asked how she can defend “such people”.
She gives lectures (among other things on testimony psychology and interrogation techniques), fights against the German Association of Judges to finally have criminal proceedings in Germany recorded: “They lock people up for life without a word from witnesses or experts being documented in the main hearing,” says the defense attorney.
“Even in countries that are not known for their legality, the main hearing is recorded. The Genditzki case should be a cautionary tale.”
Her areas of expertise are capital law, white collar crime law and criminal tax law. But the sexual criminal law calls for them again and again. Her success rate for sexual offenses – she says – is 100 percent.
She is often asked how she can defend “such people”. She then replies: “We live in a constitutional state. In which anyone who faces this state power has the right to a defense.”
“There are also pleasant and unpleasant clients for me”
The answer comes immediately: “The judge has the power to imprison a person for life. One can speak of state power. If the right of defense did not exist, we would no longer be based on the rule of law. There are also pleasant and unpleasant clients for me. But I don’t associate myself with a possible criminal or crime. I do my job.”
Regina Rick’s case is not over with the acquittal. Now it’s about the compensation. The legislature provides for 75 euros per day in detention. For Manfred Genditzki, that’s 368,400 euros for 4,912 days that he had to spend in prison through no fault of his own.
“But we will definitely not be satisfied with that,” says Regina Rick. And goes into the next battle in the fight for a higher prison sentence.
Her reason: “Mr. Genditzki could not feed his family, he could not pay any pension insurance contributions. Added to this is the immaterial damage: his children grew up without their father, who was also considered a convicted murderer.”
“The job makes you tough”
Before the verdict, Regina Rick said a remarkable sentence: “If I still had a heart after more than 20 years of criminal defense, it would break sometimes.”
She has to explain that. The criminal defense attorney: “This job makes you tough. But that has less to do with the clients than with the constant fight against the criminal justice system.”
How does she judge a constitutional state in which judges imprison an innocent person for 14 years? Regina Rick forgiving: “It took a long time, but in the end the rule of law worked.”
You can read more exciting stories from the world of stars in BUNTE Magazin 30/23, available everywhere at newsstands or here as an e-paper.