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Former Gov. Ryan Confused About Types of Pardons

By Chuck Sudo in News on Mar 28, 2011 2:15PM

2009_11_19_Ryan.JPG One of the surprising things to come out of those George Ryan deposition tapes that were recently released has been the former governor's confusion over what qualified as a general pardon and an innocence pardon. Ryan's confusion over the two could wind up costing taxpayers in lawsuit rewards or settlements.

A general pardon is one where the prisoner is forgiven of the crime, but it isn't removed from his record. A pardon of innocence (usually reserved for the wrongfully convicted) expunges the crime from the record and opens up the possibility for the former prisoner to sue for wrongful conviction. This was the case with the lawsuit filed by Oscar Walden Jr. against the city for a crime he said he was coerced into admitting he did. Walden's lawsuit against the city is also the reason Ryan was deposed. Lawyers for the city have tried in vain to have Ryan testify during Walden's trial about the types of pardons available. Walden eventually lost his lawsuit with the city.

Walden received a general pardon for his crime from Gov. Jim Thompson in 1978, but his attempts to receive an innocence pardon were futile until Ryan granted it in December 2002 as one of the over 200 pardons he granted on his way out of the Governor's mansion.