The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday upheld jailed former Gov. George Ryan's appeal and sent back the case to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for further consideration.
The move could mean a new trial for Ryan, who is serving a 6 1/2-year sentence for racketeering, conspiracy, tax fraud and making false statements.
"That would be a substantial test, a substantial step towards justice for George Ryan," his friend and attorney, former Gov. Jim Thompson, said Monday.
Last July, the appeals court denied Ryan's appeal and upheld the former governor's corruption convictions. Ryan's attorneys had argued the charges should be overturned because prosecutors never proved he took a bribe.
The appellate court said the U.S. Supreme Court ruling curtailing "honest services" laws didn't apply since Ryan's case clearly involved bribery and kickbacks.
The high court took issue with how the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reached its decision to reject his appeal -- but it stopped well short of overturning Ryan's convictions. Any new trial, if it happened, would solely focus on several fraud convictions, Thompson said.
Both sides must now submit new filings to the 7th Circuit by the end of June, and oral arguments could take place in autumn, Thompson said.