George Ryan Trial, Part 2
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Today we were treated to a one hour argument by defense counsel Dan Webb. He argued ad nauseam about whether or not the government should be allowed to describe to the jury nine ostentatious trips that the former governor took that were paid for by people who were at the same time signing government contracts with the State of Illinois. Webb was willing to admit that George Ryan lived a privileged life, but to go over each trip would be prejudicial to his client, especially when presented to a jury who only could dream of such trips. While it is agreed that the trips are prejudicial, it was Judge Pallmeyer’s position that the government should be allowed to put on its case. While the evidence would be admitted, the Judge was going to limit the amount of information that would be given to the jury. For example, if it got to be too much, she would stop it.
Of course the trips are prejudicial to George Ryan, but at the same time it is part of the government’s case.
Once the trial began, Scott Fawell, George Ryan’s campaign manager and chief of staff, was again the witness. Fawell kept a record of all the favors that were handed out while working for George Ryan. Can you imagine a meticulous record of every perk, every payout over 10 years? That is what Fawell kept and it will be used to try to convict Ryan. There are probably 100 pages of records of perks/favors/payoffs.
Today we were shown how unusable square footage was added into a Secretary of State lease agreement with a friend of Ryan’s to make it look like the fee was more in line with usual office lease space pricing. We were shown how relatives of Ryan were paid out of campaign funds for doing no work on his political campaign. We were shown how George Ryan used campaign funds for personal trips and gambling, which is okay, as long as you declare it on your income tax return as “income.” Of course Ryan never did report this “income.”
We were also shown how friends of Ryan suggested that a particular employee be given raises before their review time. Fawell described that, when on trips, he and Ryan would write a check to their host for $1,000 and then would be reimbursed with cash so it looked like they had paid for the trip themselves.
During the testimony, Webb continued to interrupt and object to the questions for “form”, “relevance”, “leading” and “foundation”. It was observed that the jury was “put off” by the tactics exhibited by their several sighs. Webb doesn’t appear to “get it” that the jury is already tired of his tactics. Why doesn’t he wait for something really important? Lead prosecutor Patrick Collins is very polished. He seemed to be most at ease when holding fast to a cart containing mountains of records.
George Ryan seemed almost catatonic as he stared straight ahead for most of the day looking uncomfortable while his attorney, Dan Webb, jiggled his leg under the table spending most of the time scribbling furiously on his legal pad, only looking up to make objections.
I observed the jury at length and from what I could see, the jury is composed almost exclusively of middle class people who are definitely aware of how much money Ryan threw around. They have never been able to even approach the lifestyle of Ryan for even one of his trips in corporate jets and “sunshine” vacations.