Gov. Ryan Ordered to Report to Prison Nov. 7

Bump and Update: Gov. Ryan has been ordered to report to prison November 7.

Gov. George Ryan: Supreme Court is His Last Chance

Former Illinios Governor George Ryan lost his federal appeal yesterday, seeking to overturn his conviction and 6 1/2 year jail sentence on corruption charges.

His last hope is the Supreme Court. The 7th Circuit vote was 6 to 3, with Judge Richard Posner writing a stinging dissent. Mostly, they criticized the length of the trial and blamed the trial judge for not exercising more control over the proceedings.


"We agree with the panel majority that the evidence of the defendants' guilt was overwhelming," Posner wrote with Judges Ann Claire Williams and Michael Kanne. "But guilt no matter how clearly established cannot cancel a criminal defendant's right to a trial that meets minimum standards of procedural justice."

The dissent warned that marathon trials scare off many competent jurors. Those left become overwhelmed by the vast amount of evidence, they wrote. "The longer the trial, the less likely the jury is to be able to render an intelligent verdict," the opinion said.

Why did this one [last so long]? What was special about it? The prominence of defendant Ryan? That is not a proper reason in a legal system that aspires to equal justice for all.'

In what could be a message to other judges contemplating mega-trials, they wrote "jurors are more likely to become "bored, impatient, irritated" and to disobey the judge's instructions."

They do have a point. Phil Spector's trial, which took four months, is a recent one I can think of that went on way too long.

Ryan didn't directly raise the length of his trial in his appeal. I thought his strongest argument was this one:

While the jury was deliberating, the Tribune reported that two jurors had concealed their arrest records -- information they should have revealed to the court months earlier during jury selection.

After conducting her own investigation, Pallmeyer removed the jurors and replaced them with alternates, starting deliberations anew.

As it turned out, one of the jurors who was removed had been holding out against convicting Ryan.

If the Supreme Court doesn't take his case, Gov. Ryan will report to the federal prison at DeLuth, MN, unless he is successful in having it changed to Oxford, WI.

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  • Display: Sort:
    You'd think they would have learned by now (none / 0) (#1)
    by scribe on Fri Oct 26, 2007 at 12:09:54 PM EST
    not to go on so long:

    In what could be a message to other judges contemplating mega-trials, they wrote "jurors are more likely to become "bored, impatient, irritated" and to disobey the judge's instructions."

    Duh.  There was a Mafia conspiracy case in NJ back in the '80s that went on for almost two years of trial.  If I recall the story correctly, during it a couple of the jurors met, got married, settled down and started down the road to divorce all while sitting on the jury.

    When that case went to the jury after two years of trial, they were out maybe a day (I want to say an hour or two, but don't have reference other than memory available)and came back with an across-the-board acquittal.  The gist of their reason:  "if you had had anything, it wouldn't have taken two years to show us."

    Not to mention that in extended megatrials the jurors are far more likely to be government employees (who just might tend to have some bias in favor of their employer), i.e., people who make it through selection because they won't go broke or lose their jobs if they are off on jury duty for months on end.  Even in federal court, where you get $40 a day, the juror pay doesn't go far.  A while back, I spent a day a week on a grand jury.  Though the experience was highly illuminating, the pay I got didn't even come close to covering parking.

    Duluth (none / 0) (#2)
    by eric on Fri Oct 26, 2007 at 12:42:39 PM EST
    That's probably Duluth, MN.

    Maybe Bush will commute (none / 0) (#3)
    by RedHead on Fri Oct 26, 2007 at 04:41:33 PM EST
    It's not like Ryan damaged national security.

    after 9-11, that's what Jesus would want.

    ps Is having present-day, nutty Posner on your side a good thing?