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Judge Imposes Gag Order

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A federal judge in Chicago today has put a gag order over former Gov. George Ryan’s racketeering and fraud trial, now in its final stages.

The order bars prosecutors, defense attorneys, the defendants themselves and their families from speaking to reporters about the case.

The move puts a damper on what has been a fairly collegial relationship between the trial principals, attorneys and the press.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer was mulling the gag order last week, but put her foot down after word leaked to the press over the weekend about a juror’s dismissal.

The dismissal had nothing to do with the trial and the decision was under seal, so the judge was especially upset about the leak.

The judge called a newspaper article speculating about the juror ""false, baseless and needlessly disruptive.""

She also gave prosecutors the go-ahead to recall Edward McNally, the chief prosecutor in southern Illinois and a former lawyer of Ryan’s.

They want to ask McNally about a potential conflict of interest: why he didn’t reveal he was part of a bankruptcy case being prosecuted by Ryan’s law firm, Winston and Strawn.

Ryan’s defense team objected strongly to more testimony from McNally, and has said they didn’t know he was involved in another case connected to their firm.

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