Amidst the editorial writers and columnists and blog commenters stupefied and disappointed by Sen. Dick Durbin's comments last week that he is considering asking President Bush to set former Gov. George Ryan free from prison early, a juror in the case has now made his own objections official.
Kevin Rein, identified during the 2006 trial as a carpenter from Glen Ellyn, has sent a letter to Durbin outlining his case. Part of that letter is excerpted in the Sun-Times today.
"[S]hould you and Mr. Bush decide to release Mr. Ryan early, it will take away a little more of the faith that the average American has in this country," Rein wrote. "Mr. Durbin, have you given thought to the time and effort put in by the U.S. attorney's office? Have you asked Mr. Fitzgerald or any of the prosecutors or federal agents involved in the case? What about asking Judge Pallmeyer if she was wrong to sentence Mr. Ryan to 6½ years in prison? Remember that the judge took into account many factors when she handed down her sentence. A sentence that was criticized for being too short."
In a Sun-Times story after the verdict was delivered, Rein was reported to have "cited a Fawell memo urging Ryan to get rid of inspectors looking into fund-raising in Ryan's office as key evidence. During closing arguments, prosecutor Patrick Collins called the memo the 'magna carta' of corruption under Ryan." He also described tension between jurors as part of the give-and-take as the panel plowed through transcripts and argued their way through the evidence.
In his letter to Durbin, Rein says: "Mr. Durbin, you have said Mr. Ryan's good name has been damaged. Who did the damage? Mr. Ryan himself did it. Mr. Durbin, where was your concern for the good names of the jurors in the case? After the guilty verdict, Mr. Ryan's defense team chose to attack the good people of the jury."
Rein was the only juror who attended Ryan's sentencing ("A year ago we started the civics lesson. I wanted to see it through") and also spoke out after a Ryan appeal was denied.