Former Gov. Ryan Seeks Appeal To U.S. Supreme Court

CHICAGO (CBS) — While one ex-governor heads off to federal prison, another is still there, pinning his hopes for an early release on a long-shot before the U.S. Supreme Court.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, former Gov. George Ryan remains in prison in Terre Haute, Ind. He has served 4 1/2 years of the 6 1/2 year sentence that was handed down for his corruption conviction in 2006, and is due for release on July 4 of next year.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

Ryan’s attorney, former Gov. James Thompson, still has an appeal pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. So far, the high court hasn’t even decided whether to hear the case.

“What it says to me is that there are a couple of other cases up there in the Supreme Court that raise the same kind of issues that George Ryan’s petition does, and they’re holding Governor Ryan’s case to be decided along with those cases,” Thompson said.

Ryan now is 78 years old.

“He suffered the loss of his wife, the loss of his brother. He had everything taken away from him. He’s certainly paid his debt to society,” Thompson said.

Thompson points out that while the Supreme Court has not agreed to hear Ryan’s appeal, the court also has not decided to reject it.

Last year, the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Ryan’s appeal, in which his attorneys argued that because the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the honest services law, his most serious conviction should be thrown out.

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.

Ryan’s wife, Lura Lynn Ryan, died on June 27 of last year after a long battle with lung cancer. Ryan was released from prison for several hours so he could be with his wife at the time of her passing.

  • Davidd

    Boo Hoo! Let’s ask those children who died in that flaming wreck if he should get out.

    • Larry Fredricks

      You are referring to the Willis family. Everytime one of you people bring that up, I feel the need to clarify. George Ryan never worked a counter at the DMV. A few employees who worked there, sold CDL’s under the table. Secondly, the accident that killed the Willis children was caused by a freak accident. Investigaters found that a weld on a mud flap bracket failed. This could happen to any truck driver and had nothing to do with the status of his CDL. Basically Ryan had absolutely nothing to do with that accident. But for some reason, people bring that up as the first thing they think of in regards to Ryan. The prosecution never really did introduce a smoking gun like they did in Blago’s trial.

      • Kelly

        Larry it is just so easy to dismiss because he didn’t work behind the desk, but hwe was the Secretary of the State and issuing drivers licenses was his number one responsiblity.. An employer is responsible for its policies, that the employer forces the employees to obey.. Therefore his forcing potential drivers to bribe their way for a license, and then pass that on to his coffers is indirect evidence of negligence… The driver that was involved with the deatlh of the Willis children DID NOT SPEAK ENGLISH so therefore he was licensed illegally.. Oh and one more thing.. Even tho the Willis family has received the most attention, there were more deaths and injuries across the country due to drivers receiving illegal licenses in Illinois.. 10 deaths in Texas comes to mind..

  • Jeffrey Spero

    Let him rot in prison!

  • Just Axin

    Larry F- I guess people think that if the DMV wasn’t rife with corruption and that lawbreaking, bribe paying driver wasn’t out there driving that truck, it wouldn’t have happened. Does this mean that someone else from his company could have been driving that truck instead and this still would have happened? Who knows. It would be nice if Ryan just got prostate cancer and died in prison and got this over with.

    • Larry Fredricks

      Thanks, Just Axin. That is my point exactly. If someone else had been driving the same truck, the weld would have failed as well, making it a freak accident, not the fault of the driver.

  • justsayinwhatstrue

    Someone needs to tell him NO once and for all. He’s a crook just like the others. He was able to have SPECIAL treatment. Does he think he’s the only one in prison that lost a loved one? Maybe you should have thought of all that when you were doing your crimes. He needs to stay where he is and hopefully die there. Period!

  • PM

    Compared to Blago’s sentence, Ryan’s is piddly. The Willis case wasn’t the only reason Ryan is where he is. There were other underhanded dealings during his time in office. Fourteen years for Rod Blago is too much, just “to make him an example”. That will not deter any other politician from temptations to do wrong, if they choose to.

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