CHICAGO – A federal judge Wednesday refused to let defense lawyers interview two jurors involved in former Gov. George Ryan's racketeering and fraud trial.
"I don't think there is a basis here to permit an inquiry," U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer said in response to the lawyers' request.
Pallmeyer said the main reason for her decision was that neither juror was on the panel that found Ryan guilty earlier this month.
One of the jurors was replaced by an alternate shortly before deliberations began; fellow jurors had complained she was snoring during the trial. The other was replaced during deliberations when the judge found out the woman had failed to indicate on a court questionnaire that she had an arrest record.
Ryan attorney Julie Bauer said Wednesday that she was disappointed with the ruling.
"How this jury was put together and re-put together during deliberations" was "a major issue," she said. Ryan's attorneys have said they will appeal and indicated the jury changes would be part of their argument.
Bauer said the defense wanted to ask the juror accused of snoring why she had told reporters she felt "set-up." The attorneys wanted to ask the other dismissed juror if the other jurors had viewed the case with a "preconceived mind-set," she said.
Under court rules, attorneys are not allowed to talk with jurors after a trial without getting permission from the judge.
Prosecutors said controversy over the jury had gone far enough and should end. The jurors' backgrounds have already been investigated, and using post-trial interviews with jurors to impeach the verdict is barred by federal rules, they said.
Ryan, 72, and businessman Larry Warner, 67, were convicted April 17 of racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud and other charges following a six-month trial. Prosecutors said that as secretary of state in the 1990s and later as governor Ryan steered state leases and contracts to Warner and other insiders and was rewarded with trips and other gifts.