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The [Friday] Papers

"After he lost another appeal Thursday, former Gov. George Ryan's dimming hope for a new trial now relies on a forceful dissenting opinion - joined by one of the nation's most influential judges - that called his six-month trial far too long and 'a travesty,'" the Tribune reports this morning.

Indeed, the 6-3 ruling by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejecting Ryan's appeal came with a blistering dissent lead by legal iconoclast Richard Posner.

What is so odd about it is it's focus on the length of the trial, heretofore not an issue.

"Why did this one [trial last so long]? What was special about it? The prominence of defendant Ryan?," the dissent asks.

More like the vastness of Ryan's schemes. What part of the prosecution's case, I wonder, would Posner and his dissenting colleagues suggest wasn't necessary to try?

Posner is known for determining the outcome he wishes and then fashioning a legal argument to get there. Maybe he's privy to a weak spot on the U.S. Supreme Court - where Ryan's appeal goes next - for defendants who have had to endure long trials.

Trial length makes sense as an appealable factor in this case in just one way: If federal court judge Rebecca Pallmeyer would have otherwise declared a mistrial because of the juror misconduct discovered late in the proceedings but couldn't bear to face starting over, thus denying Ryan a fair trial.

At any rate, the most important part of the dissent is this: "We agree with the panel majority that the evidence of the defendants' guilt was overwhelming."


Any Ryan defenders still out there should take note: Ryan's guilt is no longer in question.

Arch Nemesis
"George Ryan clawed his way to the top of Illinois' political heap the old fashioned way; he seized it through the misuse and abuse of taxpayer dollars and state employees," the BGA says in its statement, "Goodbye and Good Riddance." "Today's decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals confirms what everyone but a few Ryan dead-enders have known for years, George Ryan is a felon who richly deserves jail time for his crimes against the citizens of Illinois."

Sexiest Man
The BGA handed out its annual Civic Achievement Award last night to U.S. Attorney's Office here as well as the Chicago branch of the FBI for their work on the Ryan case and other wayward pols. Patrick Fitzgerald gave the keynote speech, but the highlight of the evening was former prosecutor Patrick Collins's introduction of Fitzgerald, which included a dramatic reading of Sneed's item about Fitzgerald's recent engagement.

To Fitzgerald's embarrassment, Collins offered chocolates and tissues as shower gifts.

Clout Rout
The BGA gave its annual George Bliss Award for Excellence in Investigative Journalism to Sun-Times reporter Tim Novak for "Clout's Sick List."


I was hoping the gift bags would contain subpoeanas, just for the fun of it, but maybe that would have only been fruitful had the mayor showed.

Doll Defensive
The Sun-Times editorial page took folks in the blogosphere like me to task today for reacting critically to the earth-shattering news - first reported on the Tribune's front page - that a 9-year-old girl was worried about the safety of her American Girl doll after it fell out the cargo door of a plane in flight.

"But we're talking about a little girl and her dolly," the paper says. "Are Abby Ann bashers - women as well as men, we hasten to point out - so jaded they can't remember the days they couldn't sleep or travel without their favorite doll or blanket or teddy? Is it so difficult for them to understand how a girl could think of her doll as someone real in her life?"

Well, no, I can't remember that because there was never a time when I thought a doll was real. But the Sun-Times misses the point. I would never make it my business to criticize a 9-year-old girl, especially if I thought she read my website. The point was about the media's credulous coverage of this awful tragedy - front page (!) in the Tribune and deemed worthy enough for a follow-up by the Sun-Times.

(Did it go like this? "Hey, did you see that story in the Tribune today? We've got to have the doll story!")

That little girl isn't the only one living in a fantasy world, but at least her tender age gives her an excuse.

Beachwood Oracle!
As predicted by a Beachwood commenter . . .

"Offers started to pour in Wednesday from children willing to donate their American Girl dolls to a Florida girl whose doll was sucked out of the open cargo hold of an airliner," the Tribune reported.

"But American Girl's corporate headquarters beat them to the punch after the Tribune published a story Wednesday about 9-year-old Abby Ann Telan lamenting the loss of her Marisol Luna doll, which is no longer in production."

The doll will also receive a free manicure and bonus frequent flyer miles.

And next year, and again in five and ten years, the Trib will do an anniversary story and tell us how the doll is doing.

1. I'm waiting for the doll story to become an Angelina Jolie film.
2. If the girl couldn't "sleep or travel without her favorite dolly," as the S-T so specially puts it, maybe she should have put it in her carry-on bag (as opposed to checked-in luggage). Now that I have that out of my system I promise to never speak of this story again.

Spectator Sport
Remember that Sun-Times story about the "thousands" of folks gathered along State Street for the parade preceeding the opening of the World Boxing Championships?

The Reader's Whet Moser has a different account we find much more believable:

"I went down to State Street for Chicago's super-exciting test run for the Olympic opening ceremonies, which consisted of about 700 people walking several blocks down State Street. There were others along the route, but it was hard to tell who was a spectator and who, like me, was running errands. The boxers were passing by the Chicago Theatre around 4:10, amid a swarm of cops and under the watchful eye of police helicopters. By 4:40 Streets and San was packing up the barricades. In short, it was like a broken water main with flags, with the city demonstrating that, like an ideal world-class city, it can successfully shut down several downtown blocks at a time. So, do we get the Olympics now?"

SO-CALLED AUSTIN MAYOR ADDS: Exclusive video of the Boxing Parade is available here.

The Beachwood Tip Line: Lengthy and appealing.


Posted on October 26, 2007

MUSIC - Holiday Hullabaloo.
POLITICS - Bank Profits Soaring.
SPORTS - Chicago vs. Michigan, 1903.

BOOKS - Dia De Los Muertos Stories.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Chicagoetry: West Town Blues.

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