Ryan Juror Investigation

March 24, 2006

The Chicago Tribune reports today that a juror in the corruption trial of former Illinois Governor George Ryan failed to disclose his criminal record on a questionnaire during jury selection.

Court documents from the mid-1990s show a felony drunk driving conviction and a weapons charge.

U-S District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer is investigating the allegations.

On Chicago Public Radio's Eight-Forty-Eight, Northwestern University law professor Jeffrey Urdangen said he was surprised prosecutors didn't discover the lie.

He says, "You would have expected that a simple key stroke for each prospective juror would have been done to see what their rap sheet is."

Urdangen says the Cook County State's Attorney's Office does this as a matter of course in their cases.

But he says it would take a much bigger revelation to warrant a mistrial.

Urdangen says, "Some personal information about a key witness or one of the principal lawyers or the defendant, something shocking that turned out to be true, that would be an example of what might taint the jury so significantly to even consider a mistrial."

He says it's likely the juror will be replaced with an alternate.

If that happens, the jury will begin deliberations all over again.

The jury is expected to return to the federal courthouse on Monday.