By Kevin Robinson in News on Aug 23, 2007 2:30PM
An air of unfairness permeates everything about the George Ryan trial. His fall from grace, you may remember, began with the License-for-Bribe Scandal, a scandal that involved the deaths of nearly an entire family caused by a truck driver who had effectively bought his commercial drivers license.
Of the many themes that have been present in the George Ryan corruption trial, a recurring one has been forgiveness. Besides his connection to corruption in state politics, Ryan has also been hailed as a forward-thinking governor on the death penalty, having granted commutations to all Illinois prisoners sentenced to death in January of 2003, believing that executions could not be administered fairly in the state. Three years later, the Willis family, whose children died in that fiery car accident, would publish a book about forgiveness. And on Tuesday, a federal appellate court decided to let Ryan remain free on bond while they heard his appeal. Although the court rejected his appeal, they have agreed to give it a full hearing before the full 11-judge court. Ryan is asking for a new trial, based on the claim that the jury process in his original trial was flawed. The Chicago Tribune reported during deliberations that two jurors had not disclosed information about their criminal backgrounds during voir dire.
Of all the unfairness that has happened thus far — the deaths of six little children, the disturbed life of a truck driver, the tarnished reputation of a former governor, and the ruined lives of innocent convicts — the greatest is yet to come. As the appeal drags on, a family awaits closure in a horrifying and terrible chapter in the story of their mortal lives. George Ryan waits in limbo, perhaps hoping to drag serving his conviction out long enough to beat it with death. And justice goes unserved, with no punishment for violations of public trust, and no end in sight to the rampant abuse of that trust.
Image via University of South Alabama.