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This just in… Appellate court throws out some Blagojevich charges, but rules sentence can stand

Tuesday, Jul 21, 2015

* Click here to see the appellate court’s ruling on Rod Blagojevich’s appeal.

Bottom line: Several counts were tossed, but the judges decreed that Blagojevich’s sentence was more than fair and still justifiable even with fewer counts against him.

* From the ruling

Blagojevich now asks us to hold that the evidence is insufficient to convict him on any count. The argument is frivolous. The evidence, much of it from Blagojevich’s own mouth, is overwhelming. To the extent there are factual disputes, the jury was entitled to credit the prosecution’s evidence and to find that Blagojevich acted with the knowledge required for conviction.

But a problem in the way the instructions told the jury to consider the evidence requires us to vacate the convictions on counts that concern Blagojevich’s proposal to appoint Valerie Jarrett to the Senate in exchange for an appointment to the Cabinet. A jury could have found that Blagojevich asked the President-­‐elect for a private-­sector job, or for funds that he could control, but the instructions permitted the jury to convict even if it found that his only request of Sen. Obama was for a position in the Cabinet. The instructions treated all proposals alike. We conclude, however, that they are legally different: a proposal to trade one public act for another, a form of logrolling, is fundamentally unlike the swap of an official act for a private payment.

Because the instructions do not enable us to be sure that the jury found that Blagojevich offered to trade the appointment for a private salary after leaving the Governorship, these convictions cannot stand. […]

A proposal to appoint a particular person to one office (say, the Cabinet) in exchange for someone else’s promise to appoint a different person to a different office (say, the Senate), is a common exercise in logrolling. We asked the prosecutor at oral argument if, before this case, logrolling had been the basis of a criminal conviction in the history of the United States. Counsel was unaware of any earlier conviction for an exchange of political favors. Our own research did not turn one up. […]

The indictment also charged Blagojevich with wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1343. That the negotiations used the phone system is indisputable, but where’s the fraud? Blagojevich did not try to deceive Sen. Obama. The prosecutor contended that Blagojevich deprived the public of its intangible right to his honest services, which 18 U.S.C. §1346 defines as a form of fraud. To call this an honest-­‐‑services fraud supposes an extreme version of truth in politics, in which a politician commits a felony unless the ostensible reason for an official act also is the real one. So if a Governor appoints someone to a public commission and proclaims the appointee “the best person for the job,” while the real reason is that some state legislator had asked for a friend’s appointment as a favor, then the Governor has committed wire fraud because the Governor does not actually believe that the appointee is the best person for the job. That’s not a plausible understanding of §1346, even if (as is unlikely) it would be valid under the First Amendment as a criminal penalty for misleading political speech. And no matter what one makes of the subject, the holding of Skilling v. United States, 561 U.S. 358 (2010), prevents resort to §1346 to penalize political horse-­trading. Skilling holds that only bribery and kickbacks violate §1346. So unless political logrolling is a form of bribery, which it is not, §1346 drops out. […]

What we have said so far requires the reversal of the convictions on Counts 5, 6, 21, 22, and 23, though the prosecutor is free to try again without reliance on Blagojevich’s quest for a position in the Cabinet. (The evidence that Blagojevich sought money in exchange for appointing Valerie Jarrett to the Senate is sufficient to convict, so there is no double-­jeopardy obstacle to retrial. See Burks v. United States, 437 U.S. 1 (1978).) Because many other convictions remain and the district judge imposed concurrent sentences, the prosecutor may think retrial unnecessary—but the judge may have considered the sought-­after Cabinet appointment in determining the length of the sentence, so we remand for re-­sentencing across the board. (The concluding part of this opinion discusses some other sentencing issues.) […]

The district judge concluded that the Sentencing Guidelines recommend a range of 360 months to life imprisonment for Blagojevich’s offenses, and the actual sentence is 168 months. Instead of expressing relief, Blagojevich maintains that the sentence is too high because the range was too high. […]

Any error in the Guidelines calculation went in Blagojevich’s favor. After calculating the 360-­to-­life range, the judge concluded that it is too high and began making reductions, producing a range of 151 to 188 months. […]

The prosecutor has not filed a cross-­appeal in quest of a higher sentence but is entitled to defend the actual sentence of 168 months (and to ask for its re-­imposition on remand) without needing to file an appeal. Removing the convictions on the Cabinet counts does not affect the range calculated under the Guidelines. It is not possible to call 168 months unlawfully high for Blagojevich’s crimes, but the district judge should consider on remand whether it is the most appropriate sentence. […]

If the prosecutor elects to drop these charges, then the district court should proceed directly to resentencing. Because we have affirmed the convictions on most counts and concluded that the advisory sentencing range lies above 168 months, Blagojevich is not entitled to be released pending these further proceedings. [Emphasis added.]

- Posted by Rich Miller        

103 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:09 pm:

    It’s time.

    Time for the proper sentencing…


  2. - SAD - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:10 pm:

    Chalk one up for the corrupt ex-gov. Disgraceful.


  3. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:11 pm:

    Current photo?


  4. - SAD - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:11 pm:

    No “proper sentencing” can properly undo the harm he did this state. He should be in for another 20 years.


  5. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:16 pm:

    They should reduce his sentence to six or seven years total. The original sentence was a bit harsh, even for Rod (who I have no sympathy for).


  6. - Because I said so... - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:17 pm:

    His sentence was harsh. He did tremendous damage to the state but the punishment didn’t fit the crime.


  7. - CB - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:17 pm:

    While I never thought he was a very good Governor or a U.S. Representative (he was mine) and he conducted himself pretty poorly surrounding the Senate appointment I never thought he did anything “legally” wrong. Time served should be good enough.


  8. - VanillaMan - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:18 pm:

    Rauner has to be delighted that Mr. Blagojevich has returned to the news cycle to highlight how corrupt our State is.

    The Governor gets to finger point and remind us how much we need his “reforms”.


  9. - @MisterJayEm - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:18 pm:

    “a proposal to trade one public act for another, a form of logrolling, is fundamentally unlike the swap of an official act for a private payment.”

    Corruption in public office pro tip: Always frame your quid pro quo as a “public act”.

    – MrJM


  10. - phocion - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:18 pm:

    Correctly decided. The prosecutors over-reached on this. And the judge wasn’t particularly even in his approach to the disgraced former Governor. If they had their way, every politician would be locked up. While that might appeal to the masses, political logrolling has been with us since ancient Greece.


  11. - Roamin' Numeral - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:21 pm:

    ==I never thought he did anything “legally” wrong==

    You can’t be serious. This guy shook down a children’s hospital for a campaign donation.


  12. - Jack Ryan 2004 - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:21 pm:

    There’s still time for him to get in the race to primary Hillary! America loves a comeback!


  13. - Elo Kiddies - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:21 pm:

    CB– time served should be good enough??? Seriously??? If George can do 6, Rod should do 7, minimum. And he’s only done 3.


  14. - Name Withheld - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:24 pm:

    Now we have two old names back in the news again: Trump and Blagojevich, both with impeccable sets of hair.


  15. - walker - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:24 pm:

    Finally a judge slammed a fed prosecutor for abusing the wire fraud statutes.


  16. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:28 pm:

    Blagojevich did bad things, but the sentence was too harsh. An earlier poster recommended six to seven years, which sounds appropriate and more in line with what I thought he should/would receive.


  17. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:29 pm:

    ===I’d say a 6 year sentence was appropriate===

    Read the opinion. That’s not what the court just said. It’s likely there will be no reduction in his sentence.


  18. - A guy - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:30 pm:

    == walker - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:24 pm:

    Finally a judge slammed a fed prosecutor for abusing the wire fraud statutes.===

    Re-sentence without any more trials. Lessen the time enough to send him somewhere a bit closer. His crimes were awful, but the sentence was on the plus side of Draconian. The system needs to work for creeps too.


  19. - IrishPirate - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:33 pm:

    Rich,

    U want me to read the opinion? Maaaaaaaaaaaan………U are a tough taskmaster.

    In a legalistic way let me rephrase: I think Blago’s sentence would have been appropriate at around six years.


  20. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:33 pm:

    Well, it’s a moral victory of…

    I dunno exactly.


  21. - Original Rambler - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:33 pm:

    SAD - Rod did some harm to this State by his policies and official decisions, but the worst of that harm had nothing to do with the criminal case before him. His sentence is to be for those acts he was convicted of and nothing else. I’ll leave the speculation as to what that sentence should be to those who are more familiar with the criminal case. I’ve kind of moved on from it.


  22. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:33 pm:

    ===The evidence that Blagojevich sought money in exchange for appointing Valerie Jarrett to the Senate is sufficient to convict,===

    The court is saying he’s guilty, they just aren’t sure that the jury had the right instructions for several of the counts. The court is also not sure to what degree this aspect of the case factored into the original sentence, and therefore is giving the judge a chance to reconsider the sentence in light of the questions about the jury instructions.

    This isn’t a reversal, nor does it necessarily mean his sentence will be reduced at all.


  23. - IrishPirate - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:38 pm:

    After reluctantly taking Rich’s advice and reading some of the opinion and factoring in Judge Zagel’s attitude in the Blago case I think our former Governor can expect a reduction of his sentence in the range of 6 months-2 years. I hope I’m wrong.

    I suspect the feds won’t bother retrying the tossed out charges. I hope I’m right.


  24. - Amalia - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:43 pm:

    uncertain whether it results in a reduction of sentence for Rod.

    but the first part of the decision is a true slap down to those who think that political horse trading is illegal, right down to the question of whether Earl Warren and the then Pres should have been accused of a felony for how Earl got on the court.

    also, as Walker points out, wire fraud over reach. boundaries!

    the ramifications of this case are more of interest. we now know that “usual course of business in politics includes logrolling.” trade away on public act for another!!!! are there other appeals out there of government officials where this is applicable?

    and we know the court has a sense of humor as we had one “Scalia” type bit with the inclusion of a Monty Python quote. very nice.


  25. - DuPage - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:43 pm:

    @Elo Kiddies2:21 =If George can do 6, Rod should do 7, minimum.=

    George was given the hard time in retaliation for commuting all the death row inmates. A lot of DAs and Judges were mad about that.

    About the time Rod comes out of that cell, it will be all ready for Rauner to move in.


  26. - Southside Markie - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:45 pm:

    This opinion is not favorable for Blagojevich. Easterbrook seems to mitigate each of the errors with evidence of Blagojevich’s guilt. On pp. 12, it sounds like Easterbrook is going so far as to encourage the prosecution to re-try Blagojevich. The opinion reads like its giving a between the lines message to Judge Zagel that the sentence was the right thing, done for partially wrong reasons.


  27. - Very Fed Up - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:46 pm:

    It might fit the guidline but the fact that many rapist and child predators have gotten less time than him is still laughable. Some sort of reduction will be in line hopefully


  28. - Six Degrees of Separation - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:50 pm:

    Now we have two old names back in the news again: Trump and Blagojevich, both with impeccable sets of hair.

    Rod’s mane was truly impressive, especially when dyed and poofed-up with the “football”. Trump’s, however, looks like a dead cat or beaver that needs a proper burial.


  29. - pundent - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:52 pm:

    ==It might fit the guidline but the fact that many rapist and child predators have gotten less time than him is still laughable==

    If it helps at all, here’s something to keep in mind. There are north of 12M victims of this crime in the State of Illinois.

    Helps put things in perspective.


  30. - The Captain - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:53 pm:

    Blagojevich did the things he was accused of and it doesn’t sound like this will change his sentence much if at all.

    The key takeaway is the pushback and clearer boundaries on the prosecution’s attempts to criminalize the political process. There are very few checks and balances on prosecutors, this is one of the few and it was good to see it used appropriately.


  31. - And I Approved This Message - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:53 pm:

    Still don’t understand why it took 19 months for them to hand down this decision.


  32. - @MisterJayEm - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:53 pm:

    tl;dr - The original sentence for all of the charges is a reasonable sentence for the remaining charges.

    – MrJM


  33. - Wensicia - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:56 pm:

    From the Tribune:

    “If prosecutors elect to drop the counts that were thrown out on appeal, then U.S. District Judge James Zagel should “proceed directly to resentencing,” the opinion stated.”


  34. - North Shore Joe - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:57 pm:

    #FreeBlago


  35. - D.P.Gumby - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:58 pm:

    The whole notion of theft of honest services is such a phony crime that allows prosecutors to make up anything they want to be evidence. This is a prime example. The criminalization of politics is one of the great curses of modern political polarization.


  36. - illinoised - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 2:59 pm:

    I am fully aware of what the judge said and do not expect the sentence to be changed, was just stating what the sentence SHOULD have been.


  37. - Chunga's Revenge - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:01 pm:

    today is a day I really miss Bill.


  38. - walker - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:02 pm:

    Rich: please take as many Mondays off as you can. You just produced a monster of a Tuesday. Thanks.


  39. - Centennial - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:02 pm:

    ==Still don’t understand why it took 19 months for them to hand down this decision. ==

    Yep! This short opinion could have been pumped out a month after oral arguments…


  40. - Anonymous Redux - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:05 pm:

    It’s likely there will be no reduction in his sentence. @Rich Miller

    Don’t bet on it…The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are now only advisory and not mandatory…Judges have more discretion in federal Sentencing now than just several years ago…Booker VS. United States of America.

    They will find a way to walk their boy out…sooner than many may imagine.


  41. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:07 pm:

    ===sooner than many may imagine. ===

    Keep in mind who he had for a judge. It now goes back to him and that guy is a hanging judge and he really didn’t like this defendant.


  42. - Hoping for Rational Thought - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:10 pm:

    No remorse or regret. All his actions were personally motivated and not for the good of the people. He should serve every second of the original sentence. It seems the ruling doesn’t give him much hope for anything less.


  43. - Don't Worry, Be Happy - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:11 pm:

    While I think it highly unlikely that there would be a retrial for any number of reasons, it is more difficult because of conflicts among the top staff: http://chicago.suntimes.com/natasha-korecki-2/7/71/528373/appeals-court-reverses-part-blago-case-u-s-attorney-fardon-conflicted


  44. - 47th Ward - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:11 pm:

    ===They will find a way to walk their boy out===

    Loosen up the tin foil please. Are you new here? Do you really think Judge Zagel forgot all of Rod’s antics and his lying on the stand? Even the Appellate Court gave Zagel cover to let the original sentence stand.

    And whose “boy” is Rod, exactly? Who do you think is going to go to pull strings for his early release? As if.


  45. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:14 pm:

    == You can’t be serious. This guy shook down a children’s hospital for a campaign donation. ==

    I always wondered why the children’s hospital didn’t report the “shakedown” to the Feds?


  46. - Rod - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:17 pm:

    Well I have a friend who has argued to me that President Obama when he leaves office will commute Blagojevich’s sentence. I always argued no way, but given this decision I am rethinking my position on that issue.


  47. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:19 pm:

    Rod, your friend is insane. Don’t post that nonsense here.


  48. - The Professor - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:22 pm:

    Rich is correct. The range, the opinion states, was appropriate. The opinion does not require a change.


  49. - pundent - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:22 pm:

    ==Keep in mind who he had for a judge. It now goes back to him and that guy is a hanging judge and he really didn’t like this defendant.==

    And the appellate court had no problem with the sentence handed down, acknowledged that it was below the range indicated (due to a favor in Blagojevich’s favor) and for good measure indicated that retrying the defendant on five counts wouldn’t be double jeopardy.

    I suspect the sentencing will remain the same and the prosecution will leave it at that.


  50. - Southside Markie - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:25 pm:

    Don’t Worry Be Happy: To add to the point Korecki was making about the difficulty in re-trying Blagojevich due to the top two officials in the US Atty’s office being conflicted out of participating in any such decision and other departures from the office: “Only one of the three prosecutors at Blagojevich’s trial — Carrie Hamilton — is still around.” Hamilton is now gone too.


  51. - Judicial Appointments, logrolling? - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:41 pm:

    I’m reading the decision … I’m waiting for the reference to how judges are appointed and whether that includes political logrolling.


  52. - A guy - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:43 pm:

    When Rod gets a chance to stand in front of Judge Zagel again, it might be wise to show him that “camp” has done him some good. Even though he is a “hanging judge”, having a 36 month cool off period with a more repentant offender in front of him might offer some opportunity to lighten things a little bit. This could make it easier for him to be housed a little closer to his family. That in itself is a benefit that has value with children the age of Blago’s. Hope that happens.


  53. - Centennial - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:47 pm:

    Since this made me walk down Blago trial memory lane… I always wondered why the Feds didn’t wait to arrest until he actually GOT something. I mean, it was probably days away from happening, one way or another.


  54. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:50 pm:

    Another “up” day?


  55. - Anonin' - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:51 pm:

    Don’t these judges also know Blagoof did a whole range of other antics before they installed the taps


  56. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 3:51 pm:

    === Feds didn’t wait to arrest until he actually GOT something===

    Tribune found out about the fed surveillance. Blagojevich could’ve established an alibi by appointing Lisa Madigan to the US Senate. The fact that he was too stupid to do this never ceases to amaze me.


  57. - AC - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 4:01 pm:

    We still haven’t recovered from the damage Blago did to Illinois, so I’m relieved that his sentence wasn’t reduced.


  58. - Lobo Y Olla - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 4:03 pm:

    “George was given the hard time in retaliation for commuting all the death row inmates. A lot of DAs and Judges were mad about that.”

    …many of the victim’s families were enraged.


  59. - JoanP - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 4:04 pm:

    That doesn’t read to me that they found the sentence “more than fair”, simply that it was within the appropriate LEGAL range even without considering the reversed counts.


  60. - cynically anonymous - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 4:11 pm:

    As a former state employee who is all too well acquainted with the significant damage done to the State and its citizens thanks to all of Mr. Blagojevich’s changes “for the good of the people” - I still maintain 14 years isn’t long enough - it will take Illinois far longer than that to recover from his time in office.


  61. - Springfield Watcher - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 4:13 pm:

    Blago does not deserve 14 years let’s apply some common sense and let the guy out in 5 or 6 years. There are individuals much worst than Blago in jail with only a third of that much time.


  62. - Juice - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 4:14 pm:

    Have to agree with JoanP. While they made it clear the sentence is not unlawfully high, the court also said “but the district judge should consider on remand whether it is the most appropriate sentence.”

    I doubt Zagel will, but you never know.


  63. - ananamous - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 4:14 pm:

    Is it me or is the Tribune’s lead pretty misleading:

    “In a long-awaited ruling, a federal appeals court in Chicago on Tuesday threw out five of 18 counts against convicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, vacated his 14-year sentence and ordered him retried on the five counts.”


  64. - Centennial - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 4:16 pm:

    Agreed. I swallowed my gum when the Sun Times sent me the update: Blago sentence vacated.


  65. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 4:18 pm:

    ===There are individuals much worst than Blago in jail with only a third of that much time.===

    Don’t care.


  66. - Bogey Golfer - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 4:19 pm:

    Most people were stunned at the amount of vulgarities spewed by Blago and his general demeanor in private being 180 degrees from his public persona. Which is why the US Attorney included the taped dialogue in the charges. The original sentence was appropriate.


  67. - IrishPirate - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 4:23 pm:

    Bogey Golfer,

    his sentence was appropriate because he’s vulgar and uses profanity?

    Considering that Rich runs a no profanity blog I won’t respond to that directly.


  68. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 4:24 pm:

    I feel terrible for Rod’s daughters most, but Rid brought all of it, the sentencing, on himself.

    It is time for the proper sentencing, still say that. And… if 14 years still is in the “window” and given Rod’s antics, the charges, the lack of remorse… hard to argue for significant reduction, factoring in… Rod.


  69. - Bogey Golfer - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 4:36 pm:

    @Irish Pirate - those were two thoughts and not related. Playing his conversations showed the Rod previously hid. The sentence handed down had to do with shaking down Children’s Memorial Hospital, contractors, senate seat, et al.


  70. - Wensicia - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 4:48 pm:

    Is there anything that Blagojevich could say to convince Zagel he deserves a shorter sentence? He didn’t come across as contrite when he last appeared before the judge. And he should be careful of what he says to the press before the sentencing.


  71. - Anonin' - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 4:49 pm:

    Most believe Tribbies “learned” of the wire tap when their lawyers were told Tribbie execs they were on the tapes — yikes.
    Reconfirms IL would have been free of Blagoof a lot quicker if AG and not DOJ pursued the simple extortion/bribery cases that were rampant.


  72. - Bogey Golfer - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 4:50 pm:

    At least we know what the lead story on Chicago Tonight will be.


  73. - IrishPirate - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 4:51 pm:

    Bogey,

    I HEAR ya!

    I still think 6 years would be an appropriate sentence for Blago.


  74. - Canada Joe - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 4:53 pm:

    Free Free set him Free


  75. - pundent - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 5:00 pm:

    =I still think 6 years would be an appropriate sentence for Blago.=

    Based on your years on the bench and familiarity with federal sentencing guidelines I take it?


  76. - Chicago Cynic - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 5:01 pm:

    Rod is going to be very very very disappointed with this decision. This “victory” is meaningless if it doesn’t free Rod much much sooner. Given the discretion is Zagel’s and the appellate court essentially said no sentencing change is REQUIRED, I wouldn’t hold my breath for much in the way of relief.


  77. - Bill Edley - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 5:08 pm:

    I wonder when Judge Zagel became a “hanging judge.” Certainly, not when Judge Zagel served as Gov. Thompson’s Director of the Illinois State Police from 1980 to his political federal judge appointment by Ronald Reagan in 1987.
    Zagel’s served as Director of the State Police during almost the entire period covered in the 1990 Supreme Court Rutan vs Republican Party of Illinois, which found Illinois’s hiring practices a violation of the 1st Amendment. It also covers a period that the State of Illinois built numerous prisons, two in my 95th State Representative District.
    The Supreme Court Rutan appeal included a copy of a “pre-hiring” screening form used by the Sangamon County Republican Central Committee asking whether the job applicant would be a precinct worker and contribute to the Republican Party.
    As Director of the State Police, Judge Zagel must have been aware of the Thompson Administration hiring policies. Was he less harsh in his judgments of the political process in Illinois as ISP Director?


  78. - Amalia - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 5:12 pm:

    @ Bill Edley…..ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!!!! we have a winner. great comment.


  79. - Stones - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 5:15 pm:

    I don’t recall Rod showing much contrition (if any at all) during the sentencing. If he had I think he may have received a lighter sentence.


  80. - Emanuel Can't - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 5:15 pm:

    I’m thinking Rick Perry’s lawyers are working on their motion to dismiss right now.


  81. - Wake Up! - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 5:17 pm:

    Best case scenario for Rod is he gets a couple months knocked off, but he gets no less than 151 months.


  82. - Not it - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 5:21 pm:

    Bringing the daughters out to a live TV audience is really classy, Patty.


  83. - Southside Markie - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 5:21 pm:

    @BillEdley: Great comment.


  84. - Tom Joad - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 5:26 pm:

    The original sentence by Judge Zagel gave Blago a big break. The “advisory sentencing range lies above 168 months.” The Judge could have given Blago 360 months and still be at the low end of the sentencing range. Instead he was lucky to to get more than half of the possible sentence cut down! He has had his reduction already and there won’t be another one.


  85. - Beatgrunt - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 5:39 pm:

    Blago was a dirty dude but 14 years was a little harsh. Maybe 8-10 would have been better. I was hoping he would drag down a few other characters with him but it really didn’t happen. Jesse Jr just go a wrist slap. Blago either had no dirt to dish or kept his mouth shot. Maybe that will help him out in the long run. No real sympathy here just think some slight reduction is in order.


  86. - Wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 5:41 pm:

    Amalia, Judge Easterbrook’s contention that Gen. Eisenhower and Gov. Warren engaged in a corrupt sale of a Supreme Court seat for Warren throwing the California delegation to Ike at the 1952 convention is a contemptible lie.

    Any idiot, including a federal judge, could take two minutes on the google and see that the California delegation went overwhelmingly for Warren on both ballots and had no bearing on the nomination in any way.

    Sen. Nixon was able to pick off a few Cali delegates for Ike on the train from Sacramento to Chicago, but that’s it. But Ike’s peeps liked his hustle, conservative bona fides and support of NATO and elevated the young vet from the booming West Coast.

    To me, the most interesting story of that convention was Sen. Taft’s pledge to name Gen. MacArthur as his running mate. Taft died suddenly in 1953. The country very nearly had a Pres. MacArthur.

    That a federal judge would be so willfully ignorant and choose to slur Ike and Warren like that from the bench is beyond belief.


  87. - plutocrat03 - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 5:42 pm:

    Always in awe of the people who defend the activities like logrolling as the cost of doing business. I would like to point out that you can lose your job in the private sector when you use status for personal benefit.

    That said, I always believed the RB’s sentence to be a bit stiff. If a repentant RB would appear and show remorse and contrition I could support a 10 - 15 percent in reduction of the sentence.

    I would also be supportive of more politicians being tried and convicted of this type of public corruption.


  88. - Formerly Known As... - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 5:47 pm:

    ==There are north of 12M victims of this crime in the State of Illinois. Helps put things in perspective.==

    Well said.

    @MrJM 2:18 also nails it. ==Bribing== someone with a publicly funded position is fine, but ==bribing== them with private funding is not? Both of them are clearly in exchange for something of value and personal benefit.


  89. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 5:51 pm:

    === I would like to point out that you can lose your job in the private sector when you use status for personal benefit.===

    LOL

    Where?


  90. - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 5:52 pm:

    ===either had no dirt to dish or kept his mouth shot===

    I assume you meant “shut.” He didn’t. He had nothing. If he had something, he would’ve dished to save his own skin.


  91. - Beatgrunt - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 6:15 pm:

    I did mean shut and I agree if he knew anything he probably would have sung like a canary.


  92. - Jimmy0 - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 6:15 pm:

    Blago v. Rauner fight to the death for control. Sell tickets 100 a pop boom solve pension crisis.


  93. - Wordslinger - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 6:22 pm:

    I remain astounded that there are still among us those who believe that anyone in power anywhere would lift a finger to get Blago out of prison.

    How do you get through a normal day with such a profound disassociation from reality?


  94. - IrishPirate - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 6:45 pm:

    Wordslinger,

    have you seen Trump’s poll numbers?

    Nuff said.


  95. - Gramps - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 7:31 pm:

    Recordings don’t lie. Apologies to anyone who may have posted this. I didn’t read them all, but “That’s f’n golden.”


  96. - Bill Edley - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 9:10 pm:

    The BS that pours from Judges like Zagel is nauseating. They owe their entire professional careers to political connections. Never running for political office themselves they profit personally from the existing system. Many believe their federal judgeships are given because they are “so special.” When the reality is they are appointed through a political process that he now sends former Governor Rod Blagojevich to 14 years in federal prison. Ridiculous BS.


  97. - Quiet Sage - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 9:47 pm:

    So according to the judge, Blagojevich’s sentence may be too lenient? You’ve got to be kidding. Federal sentencing guidelines were mainly based on sentencing traditions in Southern states. They are unduly harsh. The entire federal criminal justice system is vindictive and unduly weighted toward the prosecution compared, for example, to the Illinois State criminal justice system. Federal prosecutors tend to be high and mighty, arrogant, and insensitive. Federal judges are very often ex-prosecutors.


  98. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 9:50 pm:

    Speaking of nauseating BS, Bill, you certainly weren’t shy about asking for favors from the corrupt Republican Governors during your brief tenure in the GA. Then there was the patronage job you got from Rod.
    I guess that’s different in your fertile mind.

    Anyone who knows Zagel from his days as a Director knows he studiously ignored things like patronage, CMS, and the like and pretty much did whatever he wanted to run his agency as long as it wasn’t blatantly illegal.

    I’ve known him about 35 years and a politician he ain’t.


  99. - Plutocrat03 - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 10:14 pm:

    - Rich Miller - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 5:51 pm:

    === I would like to point out that you can lose your job in the private sector when you use status for personal benefit.===

    LOL

    Where?

    There’s a thing called Google, not hard to find


  100. - Former Program Specialist - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 10:18 pm:

    Arthur Andersen -

    Say what your want about Zagel…he was a high ranking part of the Thompson administration from 1977 - 1987 during a time when donations and political support were required for state employment. See the U.S. Supreme Court’s Rutan decision for the facts.

    Hiring decisions were sent to the Governor’s office where “… the Governor’s Office looked at whether the applicant voted in Republican primaries in past election years, whether the applicant had provided financial or other support to the Republican Party and its candidates, whether the applicant had promised to join and work for the Republican Party in the future, and whether the applicant had the support of Republican Party officials at state or local levels.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rutan_v._Republican_Party_of_Illinois

    The hypocrisy of his presiding over the Blogjevich case is astounding.


  101. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 10:24 pm:

    The post says that “the Sentencing Guidelines recommend a range of 360 months to life imprisonment for Blagojevich’s offenses, and the actual sentence is 168 months”. So the comments that “time served” or some other reduced sentence is warranted are rather surprising. Remember that his 2nd trial vastly reduced the focus of his wrongdoing. 360 months or more is fair on that score.


  102. - Arthur Andersen - Tuesday, Jul 21, 15 @ 10:35 pm:

    I’m familiar with the Rutan decision. If it was or is “blatant hypocrisy” to have Zagel as Rod’s judge, why didn’t his legal team object at trial? At appeal?

    Perhaps because your position is a bit of specious baloney?


  103. - Bill Edley - Wednesday, Jul 22, 15 @ 6:37 am:

    @Arthur Andersen….Actually Arthur I never asked “for a favor” from either the Thompson or Edgar Administrations. I wouldn’t have received one because I was a political “target” during my “brief” 3 terms in the Illinois General Assembly. I did receive an administrative job from Blagojevich, even though I had campaigned for Paul Vallas in the 2002 primary.
    What I did observe during my “brief” time in the GA was a “pay to play” and strict political hiring system that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled violated our 1st Amendment rights. I observed this in our University system at WIU, when representing and living in Macomb, and throughout my legislative district in various state facilities.
    “Why didn’t he object at trial” to Judge Zagel. I don’t know. Perhaps, because those Judges he would be appealing to received their appointments through the same political process Judge Zagel received his appointment and would take offence at bringing those issues before them. Just a guess though. Speaking for myself, I would much rather have all judges elected rather than politically appointed. At least the citizens would have an opportunity to decide directly who sits in judgment of our actions.


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