Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan’s dimming hope for a new trial now relies on a forceful dissenting opinion–joined by one of the nation’s most influential judges–that called his six-month trial far too long and “a travesty,” the Chicago Tribune reports. The full 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused by a 6-3 vote–to reconsider a three-judge panel’s ruling that affirmed Ryan’s sweeping convictions for corruption. Ryan hopes that the dissent, signed by prominent Judge Richard Posner and two other judges, will help persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case.
“The evidence of the defendants’ guilt was overwhelming,” Posner wrote. “But guilt no matter how clearly established cannot cancel a criminal defendant’s right to a trial that meets minimum standards of procedural justice.” The dissent warned that marathon trials scare off many competent jurors. Those left become overwhelmed by the vast amount of evidence, they wrote. “The longer the trial, the less likely the jury is to be able to render an intelligent verdict,” the opinion said. The trials should not have gone anywhere near six months, the dissenters said. They said that in a “super-long trial,” jurors are more likely to become “bored, impatient, irritated” and to disobey the judge’s instructions. If no court intervenes in the next two weeks, Ryan must go to prison by Nov. 7.