CHICAGO (CBS) — An appeals panel has turned down former Gov. George Ryan’s bid to have his conviction overturned, just nine days after he lost his wife to lung cancer.
Ryan had argued that because the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the honest services law, Ryan’s most serious conviction should be thrown out. But the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Ryan could not use the honest services ruling to vacate his conviction.
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The appeals panel said Ryan could have challenged the honest services law on direct appeal of his conviction, as former Enron chief executive officer Jeffrey Skilling did in the case that led the Supreme Court to overturn parts of the law. Media mogul Conrad Black, the former CEO of then-Sun-Times parent company Hollinger International, also challenged his conviction based on the honest services law and got part of it tossed, the panel pointed out.
But when Ryan first appealed his conviction, he did not address the honest service law.
Ryan’s first appeal, filed shortly after his conviction in 2006, focused instead on misconduct among the jurors in his trial – two of whom were removed eight days into deliberations for failing to disclose criminal backgrounds, and a third of whom was tossed for sleeping during the trial.
It was only on his latest petition for collateral relief, or an appeal of an earlier appellate decision, that Ryan ever raised the issue of the honest service law, the appeals panel ruled.
“Nothing prevented Ryan from making the arguments that Skilling did” about the honest services law when he appealed his conviction the first time. But Ryan didn’t, and now – the panel ruled – it’s too late.
Ryan is serving a 6 1/2 year prison sentence after being convicted of corruption charges.