Lawyers for ex-Gov. George Ryan headed back to appeals court
Staff Report July 20, 2012 3:00PM
Lawyers for imprisoned former Gov. George Ryan will be back in court Friday in Chicago, presenting arguments to the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in hopes of shaving time off of his 6½-year sentence.
In April, the U.S. Supreme Court sent Ryan’s case back to the appeals court to consider whether the instructions given to jurors in Ryan’s 2006 corruptiontrial were flawed in light of another high court ruling dealing with what’s knownashonest services fraud.
The appellate court had rejected arguments from Ryan’s lawyers last year that his convictions should be thrown out because prosecutors never proved the disgraced former governor took a bribe.
The high court took issue with the way the lower court reached its decision upholding Ryan’s convictions. The appellate justices concluded that Ryan’s lawyers didn’t make a timely objection to jury instructions about the federal “honest services” law
Ryan, 78, is nearing the end of his 6 1/2-year prison term. He is due to be released from a federal prison in Terre Haute, Ind., in July 2013.
Former Gov. Jim Thompson — a lawyer and Ryan friend — has said that if the Seventh Circuit rules Ryan’s way, the defense will ask that the U.S. attorney’s office drop the counts that are being challenged — the ones having to do with honest services fraud.
But the court would first have to rule that the jury instructions on mail fraud and racketeering counts were bad.
“If those counts were simply dropped by the government, then we would ask Judge [Rebecca] Pallmeyer to resentence him,” he said.