Ex.-Gov. Ryan may get a new trial

Apr 30, 2012

Attorneys for imprisoned former Illinois Gov. George Ryan say a U.S. Supreme Court decision today could eventually lead to a new trial for their client.

Defense lawyer Albert Alschuler said the high court asked the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to reconsider Ryan's appeal. The high court found the appellate judges erred by not considering aspects of the appeal on their merits.

The decision vacates the appellate court's denial of Ryan's appeal. But Alschuler says it doesn't automatically mean a new trial, and that lots of legal wrangling awaits before that possibility.

Ryan is in the home stretch of a six-and-a-half year prison sentence for racketeering, conspiracy, tax fraud and lying to the FBI.

Courthouse News Service reported that Ryan found relief in precedent set just last week by the high court.

In an April 24 ruling, the federal Supreme Court justices said appellate courts cannot deny a prisoner's habeas petition based on issues that the state has chosen not to raise.

Ryan's second appeal to the 7th Circuit argued that jury instructions and several evidentiary rulings were defective in light of the Supreme Court's ruling in Skilling v. United States. The errors, Ryan contended, permitted the jury to convict him on an honest-services theory without finding a bribe or kickback.

In 2006, Ryan was convicted of awarding state contracts to friends and donors during his terms as secretary of state and governor in exchange for money and gifts. He is now 78 years old.