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November 30, 2006

Governor Ryan gets bond pending appeal from Seventh Circuit

In a surprising decision that could be, practical speaking, as important as prevailing on appeal, former Illinois Governor George Ryan was granted bond pending appeal by the Seventh Circuit.  Details are available in news reports here and here.

The news articles highlight that this decision suggests, but does not conclusively show, that some judges on the Seventh Circuit may be troubled by some aspect of Ryan's conviction.  What the articles do not fully discuss is the fact that Ryan, at age 72, should be especially grateful that he can now remain a free man during what likely will be an extended appellate process.

One article suggests that bond pending appeal is unusual, but I recall that Bernie Ebbers and a few other notable white collar offenders have received such bond.  I wonder if anyone has done any statistical analysis of this interesting (little?) issue.

November 30, 2006 at 08:51 AM | Permalink


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(1) One factor in the bail pending appeal process is whether you're a danger to the community; white collar defendants are more likely to be viewed as not a danger to the community than your typical criminal. Thus, I assume getting bond pending appeal is much more likely to be granted to white collar defendants.

(2) I'm not sure how it works in the Seventh Circuit, but at least in the Ninth Circuit, the three judge panel that determines your bail motion will not be the same panel that ultimately decides your appeal.

(3) The merit standard for bond pending appeal -- once you can show by clear and convincing evidence you're not likely to be a danger or flee -- is fairly low. With some caveats, you need to show that your appellate issues are more than just not frivilous, but you don't need to show that it is even more likely than not that you're going to win. If it had to be quantified, I'd guess that you need to show that there's a 20-30% chance you'll win, although perhaps some judges subconsciously put the bar higher. (As an aside, you either need to show that your appellate issues, if determined in your favor, would either require a new trial or that your new sentence would be shorter than the time it would take to complete your appeal.)

Because of all the above, I wouldn't read too much into this decision.

Posted by: Bobbie | Nov 30, 2006 11:28:48 AM

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