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Should Ryan get a new trial? - UPDATED

Friday, Apr 28, 2006

The Sun-Times has been all over this.

Just two days after a judge shot down their last attempt, former Gov. George Ryan’s lawyers will appear in court again this morning with what they say is new evidence of improper “outside influence” on the jury that convicted him of corruption.

Ousted juror Evelyn Ezell claims another juror, during deliberations, read aloud from research the juror had conducted on case law.

Some appellate courts have ruled that jurors’ independent research constitutes the kind of “outside influence” that requires courts to throw out convictions and grant defendants new trials. […]

Ezell said another juror brought in a couple of sheets of paper she surmised were reprints of information from the Internet. Reading aloud, the juror said, “A juror can be dismissed for not deliberating in good faith,” Ezell recalled. Then the juror read the section number and other citations for the law or case she was quoting from, Ezell told the Chicago Sun-Times on Thursday.

There is a recent case that seems to come close to this problem. Ed Rosenthal, the self-proclaimed “Guru of Ganja,” just got a new trial.

A three-judge panel of the San Francisco-based appeals court, in overturning the verdict, said a juror had had inappropriate communication with an attorney.

“Juror A” had asked the attorney during trial whether she had to follow the law or could vote her conscience because she suspected Rosenthal was growing marijuana for medicinal uses. The attorney told her she must follow the judge’s instructions to follow federal law or she would get in “trouble.”

“We hold that here the communication was an improper influence upon Juror A’s decision to acquit or convict,” the appeals court wrote.

[Hat tip: RandomActOfKindness]

UPDATE: From a reporter friend:

Judge Pallmeyer got angry today…by her standards, anyway. For me, it’d be called even-keel. She ripped Webb and Co. for continuing to imply there was an anti-George conspiracy on the jury or in her courtroom.

Basically, she gave the feds until Wednesday to respond to Webb’s assertion that Ezell should be brought in and questioned. Ruling to come Thursday.

UPDATE 2: AP:

Former Gov. George Ryan’s trial judge said Friday that she takes seriously a defense claim that legal documents might have been imported into the jury room, bringing improper outside influence on the jurors, and she added that she might order an investigation.

“I do take it as a very serious allegation,” U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer told both sides after Ryan’s defense attorneys asked her for permission to interview former juror Evelyn Ezell about her claim that outside legal documents were read to her by another juror.

Ezell has said in numerous media interviews including one with The Associated Press over the past two days that during deliberations a juror brought papers into the jury room.

She said the papers involved the law on when a juror could be dismissed for failing to deliberate in good faith — something she was being accused of by fellow jurors.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


7 Comments
  1. - yougotta be kidding me - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 7:00 am:

    NO NEW TRIAL - throw the crook in jail and let’s get on to fixing this State. Another trial will do nothing more than give this State a black-eye and solidify the political mess that both sides of the aisle have created and have to deal with. Even OJ thinks the verdict was right!


  2. - Anonymous - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 7:17 am:

    Two more trials. Another conviction and a failed appeal.

    Should be all wrapped up in time for the 2010 elections.


  3. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 7:51 am:

    didn’t Ryan & Warner’s attorneys ask for separate juries way back in the beginning? This was denied by Judge Pallmeyer. That may be better grounds for the appeal than juror misconduct.


  4. - Pat Hickey - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 8:16 am:

    Absolutely, George Ryan should get a fair trial. The recent government/media steamrolling in a courtroom, not unlike the bludgeoning of Mickey Segal - who lost money on that one? - continues to be a disgrace. The Orwellian ‘two minutes hate’ whooped up on Gov. Ryan in media worked its magic on the most vocal Ryan antagonists. Many, like me who never voted for Ryan in the first place, are not convinced that the shower of government charges against him hold water. It seems to me that Peter Fitzgerald’s ruffled feathers over his inability to wedge his way into influence on the Lincoln Museum fanned the flames that burned Ryan at the stake.


  5. - Shelbyville - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 8:46 am:

    Yes, seperate trials were requested and denied.
    Yes, there should be 2 new trials.

    What I find amazing is that, the fed. court is still refusing to do criminal background checks on jurors. Once the backgrounds of some have been exposed, the Tribune will continue to investigate and report. Why would the federal govt. refuse to do a simple background check? Because, everyone that has been convicted will now do background checks on their jurors?

    Jurors are no longer everyone peers. Many are unemployed and underemployed and they lie to be able to sit on an important case and collect the meals, salary, and sometimes housing. Anyone that has to be at work and wants to be at work, weasles their way out of jury duty.

    I bet the Fawell attorneys are investigating the jurors that sat on his trial. I know that I would be.


  6. - Navin Johnson - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 10:42 am:

    No, Ryan should not get a new trial.

    However, Ryan has a right to appeal. Unlike most of the low level employees that Ryan and his minions intimidated and coerced throughout his political career, George, courtesy of Winston & Strawn, has the resources to put up a fight when threatened and will get an appellate court decision about whether he gets a new trial or not.

    Generally, the 7th Circuit is not friendly to felons. However, Ryan might be able to pull it off. If so, it goes back to a trial. I am confident the result would be the same, George facing serious jail time for his crimes.

    Warner was originally indicted on May 21, 2003. Subsequently, Warner’s trial was repeatedly delayed at the request of Warner. 19 months after his original indictment, Warner was hit with a superceding indictment that included Ryan on December 17, 2004. If he had gone forward with a trial in the 19 months before Ryan was jointly indicted he wouldn’t had to to risk a joint trial. Warner demanded a speedy trial only after the joint indictment. Warner took a risk by delaying and paid the price.


  7. - THE HANKSTER - Friday, Apr 28, 06 @ 11:02 am:

    Yes, everyone deserves a fair trial, even people you may not like. This trial was clearly filled with too many questions and possible violations to be fair. He probably would be convicted in a new trial also but he, like everyother American, deserves a fair trial.


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