Minutes after being convicted in a major corruption case, former Illinois Gov. George Ryan and his defense team said they would appeal, focusing on the replacement of two jurors after deliberations were already under way, the Chicago Tribune reports. Lead Ryan lawyer Dan Webb has complained about other alleged errors in the trial, but experts say the issues related to Ryan’s jury are the most fertile ground for appeal. That’s because the right to an impartial jury is a fundamental constitutional guarantee. Appeals courts carefully scrutinize irregularities.
Webb has objected to U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer’s decision to replace two jurors with alternates after 8 days of deliberations. Pallmeyer replaced the jurors March 27, after the Tribune uncovered that they had failed to reveal arrest records during jury selection in September. As possible grounds for appeal, “it dwarfs every other issue that’s been publicly reported,” said Steven A. Miller, a former federal prosecutor. “That’s the sort of thing that could affect the substantial rights of the defendant.” Ryan’s team has argued that after 8 days, it is implausible to think the newly inserted jurors would be on equal footing with the others–thus undermining Ryan’s right to a 12-person jury. They argue it is unrealistic to think the alternates were untainted by media accounts.