CHICAGO — Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's lead attorney wants a judge to release him from the defense team ahead of Blagojevich's retrial on corruption charges, another attorney in the case said Thursday.
Sam Adam Jr., 38, who delivered a sometimes theatrical opening and closing at Blagojevich's first trial, will ask to withdraw from the case at a Friday hearing, said Blagojevich attorney Sheldon Sorosky. U.S. District Judge James Zagel has the final say in whether Adam can leave.
A legal fund Blagojevich drew on during his first trial to pay his team of more than a dozen attorneys has run dry. Now that taxpayers will have to foot the bill for Blagojevich's defense, Zagel has said he'll allow the impeached governor to have only two attorneys.
That, plus pressure on Blagojevich attorneys to represent clients in other cases, led to the decision to try and withdraw, Sorosky said.
Jurors recently convicted Blagojevich of lying to the FBI but were unable to agree on 23 other counts. Among the deadlocked counts he'll be retried on is the allegation he tried to sell or trade the appointment to President Barack Obama's former Senate seat.
Adam's father, Sam Adam Sr., and attorney Michael Gillespie also hope to leave before the January retrial, though Gillespie could serve as a paralegal, Sorosky said. If the judge agrees, that would leave Sorosky and Aaron Goldstein as the primary attorneys.
"Everybody would like to stay, but it wasn't possible," Sorosky said.
In a court filing Thursday, Adam Jr. and Adam Sr. said they could continue to advise Blagojevich and assist with trial strategy. Both attorneys, the filing said, "remain constant in their advocacy of former Gov. Blagojevich's innocence."
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