Blagojevich Lawyers Appeal Corruption Conviction, Sentence

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Excerpts from NBC 5 Chicago Ward Room

Lawyers for Rod Blagojevich filed an appeal late Monday  challenging the imprisoned former Illinois governor’s corruption conviction and  stiff, 14-year prison term.

The lengthy filing with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals  in Chicago comes more than two years after the Chicago Democrat’s retrial and 16  months after he entered a federal prison in Colorado.

The appeal cites a juror who allegedly expressed a bias  against Blagojevich who was seated despite the objections of defense attorneys.  It also raises longstanding claims that Judge James Zagel barred FBI wiretap  evidence that might have aided the defense and argues the judge miscalculated  the appropriate prison term.

“There was no evidence or allegation that Blagojevich ever  took a penny out of his campaign fund for personal use or ever sought or  accepted cash or gifts from any person who had business with the State,” wrote  attorneys Lauren Kaeseberg and Leonard Goodman. “The fact that Blagojevich  honestly believed that his conduct comported with the laws relating to political  corruption was deemed irrelevant and excluded from the jury’s  consideration.”

It also claims Blagojevich was improperly denied the ability  to play tapes which would have bolstered his claim of innocence and that there  was no proof of any wrongdoing on the Senate seat.

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“The central charge against Blagojevich, that he attempted to  sell Barack Obama’s old Senate seat, is false,” they wrote.  “The evidence  showed that Blagojevich attempted to make a political deal with Obama where  Blagojevich would appoint Obama’s choice for the Senate, and in exchange, Obama  would make Blagojevich part of his administration.”

The appeal was filed about 30 minutes before a midnight  deadline to do so.

The deadline to appeal Blagojevich’s corruption conviction  already has been pushed back several times. Attorney Lauren Kaeseberg told the  Associated Press the appeal will be filed in Chicago’s 7th U.S. Circuit Court of  Appeals but declined to comment on its contents.

Appeals can take years to play out, and defendants rarely  prevail.

The deadline to appeal Blagojevich’s corruption conviction  already has been pushed back several times. Attorney Lauren Kaeseberg told the  Associated Press the appeal will be filed in Chicago’s 7th U.S. Circuit Court of  Appeals but declined to comment on its contents.

Jurors convicted  Blagojevich on 18 counts in 2011, including charges that he tried  to sell  or trade President Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat. He reported to a  Colorado federal prison on March 15, 2012.

Kaeseberg  said in March the former governor has found a variety of ways to occupy his  free time, including teaching Civil War history, learning to play the guitar and  keeping a journal.

“He’s been doing a lot of reading. He’s actually, you know,  been sort of tinkering with different musical instruments with other inmates,”  she said.

Blagojevich’s scheduled release date is May 23, 2024. If he  stays in prison until then, he’d be 67 years old upon release.

Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/ward-room/Deadline-Blagojevich-Appeal-215535091.html#ixzz2ZDKJqL6l

CCNM
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