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March 9, 2000

Governor Ryan Names Judge McGarr, Sen. Paul Simon and Attorney Thomas Sullivan To Chair Commission On Capital Punishment

CHICAGO -- Governor George H. Ryan has named former federal Judge Frank McGarr, former Sen. Paul Simon and former U.S. Attorney Thomas Sullivan to chair the Governor's Commission on Capital Punishment to examine the administration of the death penalty in Illinois.

Former Director of the FBI and CIA, Judge William Webster, will serve as a special advisor to the Governor's Commission.

Thirteen death row inmates have been found to have been wrongly convicted in Illinois since the death penalty was reestablished in 1977. Last month, Governor Ryan announced a moratorium on executions until this commission can complete its review of the death penalty system. The Governor said the capital punishment system is "so fraught with error and has come so close to the ultimate nightmare, the state's taking of innocent life."

The 14-member commission will conduct a thorough review of the system. Judge McGarr, the former Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois from 1981-1986, will serve as the commission's chair with Mr. Sullivan and Sen. Simon serving as co-chairs.

"I can draw only one conclusion: our system is broken," Governor Ryan said. "So, today, I am naming the members of my commission on Capital Punishment to examine the administration of the death penalty in Illinois. I have selected some of the best, brightest and most honorable people in Illinois to lead this enormously important effort."

The commission members will be:

Chairman, Judge Frank McGarr. He began his long career in public service as a navy officer on a destroyer in the Pacific Fleet in World War II.

Now in private practice, Judge McGarr served as a federal prosecutor and as the First Assistant Illinois Attorney General before spending 18 distinguished years on the federal bench.

Co-Chair Sen. Paul Simon is a man of such accomplishments he needs little introduction. From his start as the youngest newspaper editor in the state to today, Paul Simon has spent his entire life fighting for reform. Since he retired from the Senate in 1997. Sen. Simon has been a professor at Southern Illinois University and director of the Public Policy Institute.

Co-Chair Thomas Sullivan served with great distinction as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois from 1977 to 1981. Currently in private practice at Jenner & Block, Thomas Sullivan is frequently pressed back into public service to offer his legal expertise, judgment and leadership. He is a man of unquestioned integrity.

Rita Fry, the Cook County Public Defender, runs the nation's second largest public defender's office and is an award-winning attorney.

Mike Waller, the Lake County State's Attorney. A veteran trial lawyer and prosecutor, he leads the third largest prosecutor's office in the state.

Roberto Ramirez is the founder and president of Tidy International, a janitorial and custodial company--now one of the fastest growing Hispanic owned companies in the United States. He immigrated to the U.S. as a young boy with his widowed mother and eight siblings.

Scott Turow is one of the finest attorneys in the city, but perhaps better known across the world as a best-selling author of legal novels. As a former federal prosecutor and now in private practice, he is a lawyer of great skill with a strong sense of justice and humanity.

Tom Needham is the chief of staff for Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard. Before joining Superintendent Hillard's administration, Tom was a policy advisor to Mayor Daley on public safety issues and a veteran Cook County prosecutor.

Bill Martin is a former Cook County prosecutor and well-respected by his peers. He is well-known as the man who prosecuted Richard Speck. He has tried death penalty cases and knows full well about the flaws that have come to exist in the capital punishment system.

After serving in the Attorney General's Office, Donald Hubert has more than 20 years in private practice, including substantial, accomplished criminal defense work. A civic and legal profession leader, he has led numerous boards and charitable efforts.

Theodore Gottfried is the state appellate defender of the State of Illinois. He is well-regarded by his peers for his courtroom ability and his research and writing on the criminal justice system.

Deputy Governor for Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Matt Bettenhausen will serve as the executive director and commission member.

Andrea Zopp is a successful corporate lawyer. Prior to that she was a criminal defense lawyer, First Assistant in the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and a former Assistant U.S. Attorney.

Kathryn Dobrinic is the Montgomery County State's Attorney. She formerly served as the public defender in Christian County. She is also the President -elect of the Illinois State's Attorneys Association.

Judge William H. Webster will serve as a special advisor to the commission. A senior partner with the Washington law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, Judge Webster has served as the director of the CIA and FBI. He has also served as a Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit; a U.S. District Court Judge and as a federal prosecutor in Missouri. Among his numerous awards are the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He recently completed serving as chairman of the Commission on the Advancement of Federal Law Enforcement.

Governor Ryan said there will be no timetable or limits set on the commission. He reminded the members of his commitment to the people of Illinois that "until I can be sure with moral certainty that no innocent man or woman is facing a lethal injection, no one will meet that fate."


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