CHICAGO (CBS) — Attorneys for former Gov. George Ryan are taking their case directly to the White House, after a federal appeals panel refused to let Ryan out of prison to spend time with his dying wife.

On Monday, the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Ryan’s request to be released on bail so he can go to Kankakee and be with his wife, Lura Lynn. She is suffering from sepsis stemming from lung and liver cancer treatments, and doctors predict she has only days left to live.

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The appeals court did address the Ryan family urgency, though, saying in its written findings: “We note that appellant’s attorneys have suggested the possibility that he might be released during the days so that he can be with his wife, and remain incarcerated at Kankakee at night. This possibility might be a humane way to address the personal aspect of his motion. As counsel recognize, however, a request for such an arrangement must be presented by the appellant to the Bureau of Prisons, because the Bureau is statutorily vested with the authority to take such action.”

But Ryan’s attorney, former Gov. James Thompson, has decided to take the case directly to President Barack Obama.

“The governor has served three years, and in the view of the circumstances of Mrs. Ryan’s condition, we are going to ask the president to commute his sentence to time served,” Thompson said.

Obama was serving in the Illinois State Senate during Ryan’s term as governor.

Thompson says he will also go forward with the request the appeals court mentioned that would allow Ryan to be transferred to the Kankakee County Jail, so he can visit Lura Lynn during the day. He would seek the support of the U.S. Attorney’s office for the request.

Last week, Ryan traveled to Kankakee under prison supervision for a two-hour visit for his wife. The visit was approved by the warden of the federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., where Ryan is serving a 6 1/2-year term, and was not made public until prosecutors mentioned it in a court filing a few days later.

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