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September 18, 2002

Former Governor Thompson to Defend Gov. Ryan, PRB Against Attorney General's "Frivolous" Lawsuits

CHICAGO--Governor James R. Thompson and law partner Kimball R. Anderson of the law firm of Winston and Strawn will defend Governor George H. Ryan and the state Prisoner Review Board in the lawsuits filed yesterday by the Attorney General.

The Attorney General yesterday sued to halt clemency hearings for the nearly 160 death row inmates who petitioned the Prisoner Review Board (PRB) for their sentences to be commuted from death to life without parole.

One suit, filed in Sangamon County Court, seeks an order for the board to hear cases beyond the 15 minute limit on testimony. However last week the PRB voted that the 15 minute limit was merely advisory, apparently rendering the Attorney General's lawsuit moot.

The other suit, filed before the Illinois Supreme Court, seeks to enjoin the Governor and the PRB from considering the cases of 33 inmates who may not have signed a petition for clemency or whose death sentences have been vacated for resentencing. Through his attorneys, Gov. Ryan will vigorously contest this effort to diminish the powers of governors to act in the interest of justice as provided by the state constitution, a power that past governors have also interpreted broadly.

"I am delighted that Gov. Thompson and Kimball Anderson will be representing me and the Prisoner Review Board. They are attorneys of the highest caliber. Further, I am confident that the facts and the law are on our side and that we will prevail in both courts," Gov. Ryan said.


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