Former IL. Gov. George Ryan's Conviction Upheld
Former Illinois Governor George Ryan lost his appeal to overturn his conviction on corruption charges yesterday. He will remain free pending a request for an "en banc" rehearing by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The main issue in the appeal involves the propriety of the Judge substituting two alternate jurors 8 days after deliberations began and a juror's bringing outside material into the jury room.
Yes, a juror did bring improper outside information into deliberations at Ryan's trial and "there is no doubt this should not have happened," the two-judge majority wrote. The judges also acknowledged that the sudden removal of an outspoken juror after eight days of deliberations was irregular.
"The trial may not have been picture-perfect," the two judges wrote in the majority opinion.
One judge dissented from the majority's view:
Dissenting Judge Michael Kanne called that "a whopping understatement by any measure." The jury deliberations were "dysfunctional" and U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer was "irresolute," he wrote, concluding that Ryan and Warner did not get a fair trial.
Gov. Ryan is best known for his decision to grant clemency to all death row inmates in Illinois following a long study of the state's broken death penalty system.
One of the ousted jurors told the Sun-Times yesterday:
[J]uror Evelyn Ezell, whose ouster from deliberations was a focal point of Ryan's appeal, called the ruling unfair. "The bottom line was that George was railroaded for pardoning blacks and other minorities," she said, referring to Ryan's historic decision to clear Illinois' Death Row. "There is no way that you can say that jury was not flawed."
I think this Northwestern law professor hits the nail on the head:
Northwestern University law Professor Al Alschuler said [dissenting judge] Kanne was right. "At the end of his opinion Kanne said, 'I have no doubt that had this case been a six-day trial, rather than a six-month trial, a mistrial would have been swiftly declared,'" Alschuler said. "I think it's a shame that judges allow these long kitchen-sink trials and then find themselves in a position where it's almost unthinkable to incur the costs of starting over."
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