May 3, 2006
Fallout From the Ryan Corruption Trial
Although former Illinois Governor George Ryan and a codefendant were convicted on corruption and RICO charges a couple weeks ago, collateral proceedings from the case remain in the news. One defense witness was Edward McNally, who represented Ryan in 2001 during the investigation before serving as the former United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois; he is now in the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice. An issue raised by the government after McNally's testimony was the fact that a number of former partners at a firm he was at that went bankrupt were being sued by the trustee in bankruptcy for certain firm debts. Counsel to the trustee was Winston & Strawn, the same firm that represented Ryan, and one partner not sued over the debt was none other than McNally. Prosecutors protested the potential conflict from that situation, and also claimed that McNally may have tape recorded a meeting between Ryan and FBI agents that McNally attended as counsel. The Chicago Sun-Times reports (here) that the Office of Professional Responsibility in the Department of Justice has begun an investigation of the taping allegation against McNally, according to a letter sent to Illinois Senators Durbin and Obama.
On another front, defense attorneys have asked the court to have the jury forewoman testify under oath regarding whether she gave false answers on her juror questionnaire. During the jury deliberations, U.S. District Judge Pallmeyer dismissed two jurors because of questions raised in the media about prior convictions they did not disclose. According to an AP story (here), Ryan's attorneys claim that the forewoman did not disclose her divorce proceeding and two domestic violence complaints in answering questions about whether she had ever been a crime victim or her involvement in legal proceedings. Post-verdict challenges for juror bias or deception are very difficult to win, as was shown in the defense challenge to a juror in the Martha Stewart case that was rejected by the Second Circuit. Ryan's sentencing is set for August 4, 2006, and juror issues are much more likely to come up during the appeal of the conviction. (ph)
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