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Rod Blagojevich Appeal: Prosecutors Challenge New Trial Request

Image: Rod Blagojevich Appeal: Prosecutors Challenge New Trial Request

Thursday, 14 Nov 2013 08:46 AM

By Clyde Hughes

Federal prosecutors Tuesday filed a motion asking an appeals court to reject a challenge by former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich who claims he did not get a fair trial trial, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Blagojevich, 56, accused of trying to sell President Barack Obama's Illinois Senate seat after he won the 2008 presidential election, has been in prison since March 2012 at a facility just southwest of Denver. His prison term ends in 2024.

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Blagojevich's attorneys filed an appeal in July claiming that they were prevented from mounting a strong defense for the ex-governor by U.S. District Judge James Zagel. The July appeal said that Zagel essentially forced Blagojevich to take the stand in his defense and then limited what he could testify to.

The ex-governor's lawyers said, according to the Chicago Tribune, that Zagel then bungled jury instructions and overreached in the sentencing. The Associated Press reported that jurors eventually convicted Blagojevich on 18 counts, including trying to profit from his power to name someone to Obama's vacated Senate seat. 

Prosecutors shot back in a 169-page filing posted just minutes before the deadline to respond.

"This is an extraordinary claim," prosecutors said in its filing. "No matter the price he charges, a public official who sells his office engages in crime, not politics."

A three-judge appellate panel could schedule oral arguments and then issue a ruling within months.

In secret government wiretaps during a federal investigation of the former governor, according to the Associated Press, Blagojevich appeared to talk financial incentives for Obama's seat, creating the foundation of the case against him.

"I've got this thing and it's f------ golden," Blagojevich said in a wiretapped conversation about Obama's seat, which was heard by jurors during his trial. "And I'm just not giving it up for f------ nothing."

After his arrest in late 2008, Blagojevich did the media circuit, proclaiming his innocence on national talk shows and appeared on Donald Trump's reality show "The Apprentice."

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