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Ryan jurors failed to report arrest records

/ Source: The Associated Press

Four of the jurors who convicted former Gov. George Ryan on corruption charges failed to mention their past involvement in court cases, documents unsealed Wednesday show.

Three of the jurors had arrest records and the forewoman had filed for divorce, but none of them indicated their involvement in the justice system when they filled out questionnaires during jury selection, the court documents show.

Defense attorneys had urged U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer to drop jurors whose answers were not factual. Their requests that she dismiss jury forewoman Sonja Y. Chambers continued until a few minutes before the verdict was read Monday, according to the unsealed documents.

The defense is all but guaranteed to bring up the issue when it asks for a new trial or appeal.

"The court and the parties have a number of jurors who lied in response to questions," Ryan's attorneys told the judge before the verdict. "The dishonest jurors have undoubtedly compromised Ryan's right to a fair and impartial jury and must accordingly be dismissed."

U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald issued a statement following the release of the documents saying the "jury provided a fair and just trial to all the parties in this case."

Ryan, 72, and businessman Larry Warner, 67, were convicted of racketeering, fraud and other offenses and are due for sentencing Aug. 4. They maintain they did nothing illegal.

Attorneys for both Ryan and Warner said Wednesday that they would let the newly released documents speak for themselves.

Two jurors replaced
Pallmeyer replaced two jurors after two weeks of deliberations, forcing the panel to start over, because they failed to note on their questionnaires that they had been charged with crimes.

Defense attorneys said she denied a defense motion to dismiss any other jurors.

The questionnaire asked prospective jurors whether they or any close friend or relative had ever been charged with or accused of a crime.

Chambers checked the "no" box. But as the Chicago Sun-Times first reported, Will County Circuit Court records show that the Bolingbrook woman sued her former husband for divorce there in 2004.

Unsealed documents show that juror Kevin Rein was charged in May 1980 with battery. A police report said he hit his sister, but the charges were dropped after the sister refused to go ahead with her complaint.

Juror Raul Casino faced a drunken driving charge in 1962, the documents showed. There was no indication of the outcome of the case.

Alternate Charles Svymbersky, who joined the jury after the two other jurors were dismissed, was charged in Peoria County in 1983 with buying a stolen bicycle, according to the documents. The theft case was later dismissed.

Messages left Wednesday at telephone numbers for Chambers, Rein, Casino and Svymbersky were not immediately returned.

One of the dismissed jurors had been convicted of crimes including drunken driving, and the other had been charged but not convicted of drug possession and other offenses.