How did a Chicago federal jury find former Illinois Gov. George Ryan and lobbyist Lawrence Warner guilty on corruption charges? The Chicago Tribune tells the story through jurur interviews. Jurors deliberated Ryan’s fate over 19 days in two phases. Cooped up suddenly in close quarters, the group developed likes, dislikes, cliques, resentments, and routines over the months of trial.
The Tribune says the “atmosphere was hardly something out of the movie ’12 Angry Men.’ It was more like one angry woman and a bunch of other jurors who said they worked pretty well, despite occasional lapses into name-calling.” The consensus among most jurors is that they went about their difficult task in a methodical and disciplined way that speaks volumes about the way the jury system is supposed to work. Jurors said there was no slam dunk charge they collectively seized on as a clear-cut case of guilt. The clinchers for many, were charges that Ryan filed false tax returns, lied to FBI agents, and engaged in an elaborate scheme to pretend he was paying for annual Jamaican vacations. The tab was actually picked up by a Ryan crony to whom Ryan steered state business.