Ryan's lawyers argue for early release

November 22, 2010 3:40:50 PM PST
Lawyers for George Ryan want the judge to throw out a portion of the former governor's convictions due to a recent Supreme Court ruling.

Given the Supreme Court's changes to the honest services law, if Ryan were tried today, his attorneys say, the charges, the evidence, the jury instructions, and quite likely the outcome would be different. So they want trial Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer to consider a number of options - either throw out the convictions, grant a new trial, or at the very least, reduce the sentence to time served.

George Ryan's wife, Lura Lynn, suffers from pulmonary fibrosis. She breathes with the aid of an oxygen tank. In September, one of her doctors wrote that Mrs. Ryan may have two -- or possibly three -- years left to live. In court Monday, Andrea Lyon one of the former governor's attorneys, pointed to Mrs. Ryan and said, "She doesn't have long your honor. Maybe six months, maybe a year".

Ryan's attorney The Ryan attorneys' argument is that while George Ryan's conviction and sentence are challenged in court, he should be released on bond so he can come home because he's already been punished enough.

"He has lost everything. The only thing that George and Lura Lynn Ryan have left in their lives, however short they may be are their love for each other, and their family and their friends," said Jim Thompson, former governor and friend of Ryan.

"I'm just looking forward to getting George home to spend a few years with me that we have left," said Lura Lynn Ryan.

Prosecutors oppose releasing Ryan on bond and say there are prison inmates around the country in similar situations. They say while the situation is sad and distressing, Ryan shouldn't be treated any differently, especially since his is a public corruption case.

The larger issue is whether Ryan's corruption convictions and sentence should be allowed to stand given changes in the honest services law. The Supreme Court has narrowed honest services to deal with cases when there is demonstrable bribery or kickbacks. In the Ryan case, his attorneys contend, that didn't happen and there were never any quid pro quos.

But prosecutors disagree and call it a bribe when a businessman who hosted the governor in Jamaica got business and contracts. They want the convictions and full sentence to stand.

"However Judge Pallmeyer rules, when she comes to consider the sentence, she should come to believe, he has been punished enough," said Thompson.

Ryan was sentenced to six-and-a-half years in prison. He has served a bit less than half of that.

Judge Pallmeyer said -- once again -- that she'll treat Ryan's case like any other. However, says the Supreme Court's changes to honest services has put Ryan in a unique position. The judge says she'll rule promptly.


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