Thursday, November 1, 2007
Former Illinois Governor George Ryan is likely facing the beginning of his six year prison term on November 6 when Seventh Circuit Judge Diane Wood denied his request for bail pending the filing and consideration of a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court. Ryan and his co-defendant lost the appeal of their convictions on RICO and corruption charges in an opinion issued on August 21, 2007, and the full court denied rehearing en banc by a 6-3 vote, over a strong dissent written by Circuit Judge Richard Posner (see earlier post here). In denying his request for bail to be continued until the Supreme Court decides the case, Judge Wood issued a chambers opinion (available below) stating:
Appellants here have shown neither a reasonable probability that the Court will grant certiorari nor a reasonable possibility that this court’s decision will be reversed. Most of the arguments presented in the dissent to the panel’s opinion were not preserved in the district court, and none of the arguments in the dissent to the order denying rehearing en banc has ever been advanced by the appellants. Before it could reach these questions, the Supreme Court would have to disregard a series of forfeitures. It is unlikely that the Court would do so, especially given the strength of the government’s case.
Ryan can still apply for bail to Justice Stevens, who is responsible for the Seventh Circuit, until a decision on his cert petition, but that is unlikely to succeed. The standard for granting bail is the same for the court of appeals and the Supreme Court, under 18 U.S.C. Sec. 3143(b)(1)(B), which requires a finding that the appeal "raises a substantial question of law or fact likely" to result in a reversal of the conviction. A quick check on Westlaw showed only a few cases in which a single Justice granted bail pending a decision on the writ of certiorari, and given the small number of petitions the Court accepts, I suspect it is unlikely Ryan's request will succeed. Nevertheless, it is certainly worth a try, especially in light of the dissenting opinions in the case questioning the fairness of his trial. (ph)