At Least He Hasn't Cheated On His Wife | Bleader

At Least He Hasn't Cheated On His Wife


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If elected, current Jim Ryan will prevent future Jim Ryans from being past Jim Ryans. And this time, he's sorry, too. Well, sorta:

"In the Cruz-Hernandez cases, prosecutors, detectives and police officers acted in good faith and still came up with the wrong result."

[Except for, you know, the ones that quit. They were right.]

"In the Cruz-Hernandez cases, the system and I failed to achieve a just outcome. And for that I am sorry."

For what it's worth, and it's not much, I assume he is honestly sorry, or at least I don't doubt it. Here's Michael Miner, from 2003, on Ryan and the many other prosecutors who have trouble admitting they were party to injustice:

Today Daley's the mayor, and his law department has conceded that torture occurred at Area Two headquarters. Yet no state's attorney has ever stepped in. In 1989 that failure was Daley's. Today he can share it with his successors, Cecil Partee, Jack O'Malley, and Richard Devine.

An interesting thing happened while O'Malley was running the office: Warden went to work for him. From 1994 through '96 he was O'Malley's executive assistant for issues, and wrongful prosecution was the issue closest to his heart. "Jack seemed to be a really good, honest person," says Warden. "And I remember that I said, 'Jack, a couple of these people with which you've aligned yourself—specifically Jim Ryan—are dogs. This guy's unbelievable. He ought to be disbarred and indicted.' And I remember Jack just looking at me: 'Oh, no. I can't believe that.'"

Before Ryan was attorney general of Illinois he was state's attorney in Du Page County, where he twice prosecuted two innocent men, Rolando Cruz and Alejandro Hernandez, for the murder of ten-year-old Jeanine Nicarico. Like Ryan, O'Malley was a Republican, and Warden says he was readier than the Democrats who preceded and followed him—not to mention a lot of the attorneys in his own office—to reopen old cases and look at fresh evidence. The exoneration of the Ford Heights Four in 1996 for a double murder in 1978 was, in Warden's view, the high-profile case that demonstrated this.

But O'Malley would never take Warden's point about Jim Ryan. "Jack shook his head and said, 'I know Jim Ryan. I can't believe that.' The same thing's true of all of us in the newspaper business. We know people who have done things, and we know they're not bad people. We socialize with them. It's very hard to overcome where you come from and what you did. Jack was a former police officer. His experiences with other police officers were largely positive. He knew them to be by and large scrupulous people who wanted to do the right thing."

It's a good - and here, perennially relevant - piece, do read the whole thing (for a great book on a case similar to the Nicarico murder, Warden & David Protess's Gone in the Night is highly recommended; don't judge it by its cover).

I try to think about that sort of thing now that Ryan's apologizing (though not to Cruz). Even with the timing I'm trying to take him at his word. As a resident of the state of Illinois, I'm theoretically a target for his apology, and I'm inclined to accept it - and also to never vote for him for anything, ever. Some things should be far beyond the pale of an elected official, and this should be one.

Anyway, that's enough from me - go read Eric Zorn, who's written more on this than I've written on anything.

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