DECEMBER 01, 2005
It has become abundantly clear as to why the government chose to try both George Ryan and Larry Warner at the same time. Both are culpable and both are unwilling to testify against the other. Why should the government put on a case with almost all the same witnesses in two separate trials when you can do it with one?
This week there was a continuous stream of private businessmen and employees in the Illinois Secretary of State’s office who testified that Warner, with the tacit if not explicit approval of Ryan, was able to insinuate himself into state business. (Warner has now been described as part of the “kitchen cabinet” of George Ryan.) He was able to solicit fees and commissions on leases he made with the Secretary of State. By concealing his investments, he was able to make hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars over the years from the Secretary of State on leases of property he owned or had a financial interest in.
Throughout the week, Dan Webb, the attorney for Ryan, continued to make his irritating objections. No stone was too tiny to overturn. Virtually all of his objections were overruled or merely required the rephrasing of the question by lead prosecutor Collins, who did not seem to be rattled by the continuous interruptions.
Overall, Webb rarely looks up from his notepad during prosecution testimony except to make objections and he doesn’t appear to be making any personal contact with the jury. What is he so studiously doing on his notepad? Members of the jury, to their credit, seem to be taking scrupulous notes and, for the most part, appear to be maintaining their concentration. Judge Pallmeyer seems to be giving liberal breaks to the jury and this is adding to the length of the trial. Friday is an off day for the court and there are “jury” days off as well.
A significant argument also took place this week out of the jury’s presence. The prosecution continued to let the judge know of their concern over the length of time the trial was taking and even though there were still four alternative jurors, there might be a continual loss if the trial continued to drag. The prosecution advised Judge Pallmeyer that he was going to drop some testimony in order to speed up the trial. He had thought to call 70 witnesses and has pared it down to 55.
Defense attorney Webb objected to any limitation as to the time of questioning by the defense as suggested by Collins, saying that this would violate Ryan’s constitutional rights to cross examine the witnesses against him. He also indicated that it takes twice as long to cross than it does to put testimony on the record by the prosecution.
This is one Judge Pallmeyer will have to leave alone since to limit the cross examination would almost certainly be overturned. Judge Pallmeyer said she would “monitor the situation” to the suggestions. She is going to have to look to different areas to try and speed up the trial. As previously reported, the trial looks like it is going to take at least 6 months regardless of what the prosecution does in attempting to speed up the trial.
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