Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Jim Ryan (February 21, 1946) is an American politician who served two four-year terms as Illinois Attorney General. A career Republican, he received his party's nomination and ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Illinois against Rod Blagojevich in 2002. Ryan married Marie, a high school sweetheart, and had six children. Now retired from politics, he is a professor at Benedictine University .
Ryan was born to Edward and Elissa Ryan in Chicago, Illinois. Ryan's father was an Irish American construction worker while his mother was an Italian immigrant housewife. Ryan and his sisters, Maria and Peggy, grew up in suburban Villa Park. He attended a school of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago, Saint Procopius Academy. Upon graduating, Ryan went on to study at Illinois Benedictine College where he obtained his bachelor of arts degree in political science in 1968. He then went on to Kent College of Law where he obtained his doctorate of jurisprudence in 1971.
Ryan entered the legal profession having found a position with the DuPage County State's Attorney office. After three years, he was promoted to first Assistant State's Attorney. In 1976, Ryan left the public sector to enter private practice. He worked at an independent law firm until 1984. That year, Ryan entered his first political race and won. He was sworn in as DuPage County State's Attorney, becoming the highest ranking prosecutor in the district. He was re-elected in 1988 and again in 1992. He was on the receiving end of a great deal of controversy for his conduct in the erroneous prosecution of Rolando Cruz and Alex Hernandez for the sensational rape and murder of a 10 year-old girl in 1983. 
Considered by local media as the most successful prosecutor in the state of Illinois, Ryan was urged to run for the state's highest legal office. In 1994, Ryan won an election to become Illinois Attorney General. He was reelected in 1998 with the endorsement of every major newspaper in the state. Ryan's most notable accomplishment as Illinois Attorney General was his USD $9.1 billion settlement from tobacco companies. It was the largest public judgement in the state's history.
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