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Blagojevich lawyer lays out appeal reasoning - Rezko won’t serve more time - A rebuke may be in order

Thursday, Dec 22, 2011

* Chicago criminal defense attorney Len Goodman, who is Lester Crown’s nephew, will be handling Rod Blagojevich’s appeal. Here’s what he told Crain’s about the case as he sees it now, although he admitted that he isn’t totally up to speed

“The main issue at trial was — what was (Mr. Blagojevich’s) intent? This is a case about campaign contributions; he was not accused of stuffing his own pockets the way some other politicians do.

“The governor was part of a system in Illinois which required him to raise tens of millions of dollars to stay in office and which encouraged him to seek campaign contributions from persons who received business and benefits from the state. In that type of case, the defendant has to be given a full opportunity to present evidence of his intent, or what was in his head,” Mr. Goodman said in an email.

“That is what I am going to be looking at. Did the jury hear both sides of the story? Did they get a full picture? Or did they hear mostly just the evidence that the government wanted them to hear?”

Overturning all 18 guilty counts would be highly unusual, to say the least. What do you think of Goodman’s arguments?

* Meanwhile

Convicted political fundraiser and businessman Antoin “Tony” Rezko will not spend any extra time in federal prison for a business fraud scheme after agreeing not to appeal his conviction in the case — or his conviction in a wider-ranging political corruption case.

U.S. District Judge James P. Zagel sentenced Rezko Thursday to 7½ years on charges he schemed to get a fraudulent loan to prop up his Papa John’s Pizza franchises in Illinois and Michigan.

But Zagel agreed to make the sentence concurrent with a 10½-year prison term Rezko received last month for corrupting state boards and state government under former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

That means every day Rezko spends in prison will count toward both sentences.

That seems reasonable.

* And some lawyers are just willing to say anything, I suppose

A Chicago man pleaded innocent Wednesday in the October murder of 14-year-old Kelli O’Laughlin in her Indian Head Park home. […]

O’Laughlin’s body was found Oct. 27 in her home. She had been stabbed in her neck, back and chest.

She had returned home from Lyons Township High School and surprised Wilson, prosecutors have said. After killing her, Wilson took her phone, they said, and used it to send taunting text messages to her mother.

After the hearing at the county courthouse in Bridgeview Wednesday, [Defense attorney John Paul Carroll] wondered whether the reason why he hasn’t received any case reports he subpoenaed on Dec. 5 from Indian Head Park Police and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office is because his client is black. [Emphasis added.]

I have no idea whether he’s right, but I kinda doubt it because he didn’t mention the race angle in front of the judge. Either way, let’s all hope this lawyer doesn’t try to turn the trial into a circus.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

17 Comments
  1. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 1:29 pm:

    Rod wasnt convicted of intent to commit a crime. He actively led and participated in an ongoing conspiracy that began before he took office. He and his defense team had ample
    Opportunity to refute the evidence.

    What you are not allowed to do in a criminal defense case is argue “the devil made me do it” unless you have tangible evidence that The Devil was directly involved or make a direct appeal for jury nullification: that the law should be ignored and Rod set free because–even though he broke the law–he did it for the greater good or ‘thats just how the system works.’


  2. - Son of a Centrist - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 1:36 pm:

    A better example of crazy lawyer arguments is that of Herry Sandusky’s lawyer, who suggested that his client was merely helping this young boy learn to shower because disadvantaged youth are never taught such a skill. Admittedly, this is unrelated to Illinois, but it’s darn silly.


  3. - Sir Reel - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 1:41 pm:

    Did Mr. Goodman listen to the tape of Blago sniffing for a job for himself or Patty in exchange for Obama’s Senate seat? The intent of that seemed pretty clear.


  4. - wordlslinger - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 1:52 pm:

    A shakedown is a shakedown whether it’s for your campaign fund your piggy bank.


  5. - Way Way Down Here - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 2:09 pm:

    “. . .what was in his head.” Not much apparently and the tapes point this out very clearly. I think we’ve been through this defense before haven’t we?


  6. - Been There - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 2:11 pm:

    While I think Rod is guilty, I think the judge was way over the top in sustaining the prosecutions objections. I was at the trial one day and the defense would utter maybe two words before the prosecution objected. And Zagel would sustain. How he knew which direction the questions were going was beyond me. I know the defense gets their chance after the prosecutors lay out their case but unless you get to cross examine their witnesses immediately after they testify I don’t think that is fair. But I am not a lawyer and I am sure there have been plenty of other cases that have been upheld on appeal with the same concerns.


  7. - Wensicia - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 2:50 pm:

    ==In that type of case, the defendant has to be given a full opportunity to present evidence of his intent, or what was in his head,” Mr. Goodman said in an email.==

    He had his opportunity, he chose to take the stand and then lied about everything.

    He wasn’t just shaking down others for campaign funds, either.


  8. - Observing - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 2:51 pm:

    I recall some gifts to the Blagojeviches that went to the childrens’ education fund. How much of that went on, and wouldn’t that be a benefit to Rod, esp if the giver were involved in contracts.


  9. - Dirt Digger - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 3:50 pm:

    That is the dumbest defense I have ever seen, and I have seen a forest’s worth of dumb legal arguments.

    What is this, an 80s Grisham movie? He’s going to put the *system* on trial?


  10. - Quinn T. Sential - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 5:12 pm:

    “the defendant has to be given a full opportunity to present evidence of his intent, or what was in his head,”

    This reminds me of the guy who told his wife that he went and had his head examined, but after doing so they found nothing!


  11. - dupage dan - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 5:16 pm:

    I think there may be the continuing desire to claim that since there was no conclusion to these acts that there was no crime. The example that has been used here by others is simple but useful - if you try to bribe a cop and he declines, have you committed a crime? The short answer is “yes”. Obfuscating those facts by trying to introduce evidence of his intent (ie - all the rest of the tapes) will not work. Not even a nice try - lame.


  12. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 5:27 pm:

    @Dupage Dan -

    Well said. Moreover, there was ample evidence of Rod trying to hide or obfuscate what he was doing and ruminating about getting caught.

    Pretty clear evidence that he knew what he was doing was wrong.


  13. - Excessively Rabid - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 5:33 pm:

    So an organized crime figure is not guilty of murder because he’s part of a system that requires it? Gimme a break.


  14. - Former Politico - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 8:11 pm:

    Read some of the rest of the Rezko story from the link above: “Rezko’s attorney, Joseph Duffy, said prosecutors told him they wanted 15 total years for Rezko in his first case, and if U.S. District Judge Amy St. Eve didn’t give him that, “they would go to Judge Zagel and ask him to make up the difference.” But because Rezko agreed not to appeal either case, prosecutors agreed to Thursday’s concurrent sentence….Rezko, a shell of his former self….”

    Part of what makes America great is every defendant has a right to defend themselves in a court of law. Curtailing someone from appealing their conviction is not reasonable and America is a smaller place when that happens.


  15. - Soccertease - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 9:24 pm:

    Agree this is a lamb appeal. Who is footing the bill? Blago has not money, has a drug problem, so I assume the taxpayers will somehow eat the appeal costs?


  16. - Soccertease - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 9:27 pm:

    typos: ‘lame’ - ‘no’ sorry about the typos-upset watching IL lose to MO


  17. - Silent Majority - Thursday, Dec 22, 11 @ 11:13 pm:

    Len Goodman is not a bad lawyer. He got Kenneth Hansen’s conviction over turned for the 1955 murders of the Schuessler-Peterson boys. He lost the re-trial and Hansen died in prison. He’s not above a little showmanship and will reach with lame witnesses, but he’s very capable.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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