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Blagojevich again denied

Friday, Apr 21, 2017

* Another loss for former Gov. Rod Blagojevich

A federal courtroom has taken simply three days to reject the attraction of imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich looking for a 3rd sentencing.

The unanimous ruling Friday by the seventh U.S. Circuit Courtroom of Appeals in Chicago dismissed arguments that the Democrat’s trial-courtroom decide ought to have decreased his 14-yr jail time period for corruption due to his good conduct behind bars.

* From the opinion….

Pepper v. United States, 562 U.S. 476, 481 (2011), holds that “when a defendant’s sentence has been set aside on appeal, a district court at re-sentencing may consider evidence of the defendant’s post-sentencing rehabilitation and that such evidence may, in appropriate cases, support a downward variance from the now-­advisory Federal Sentencing Guidelines range.” Blagojevich’s original sentence was imposed in December 2011, and he entered prison in March 2012. He submitted evidence that between then and the new sentencing in August 2016 he had helped other inmates with their educations and set an example of moral and caring behavior.

The district judge acknowledged this evidence but found that it did not justify a lower sentence, in large part because none of the other inmates had known Blagojevich while he held office and therefore could not show that he had fundamentally changed his attitude toward corrupt dealing. The judge demonstrated that he understood the extent of discretion under Pepper and did not need to explain at greater length why he found the new evidence unpersuasive. See Rita v. United States, 551 U.S. 338, 356–59 (2007) (brief reasons suffice). Blagojevich’s treatment of fellow inmates may show that outside of office he is an admirable person, but the court was entitled to impose punishment that reflects how Blagojevich behaved when he had a different menu of opportunities and to deter those who hold office today. The authority recognized by Pepper belongs to the district judge. As with many discretionary subjects the fact that a judge could have ruled otherwise does not imply that the judge was compelled to rule otherwise.

Blagojevich’s contention that the vacatur of five convictions calls for a lower sentence likewise was considered by the district judge, who observed that the remaining counts of conviction represent the same kind of conduct as the vacated counts. We did not hold that Blagojevich was innocent of the charges in the vacated counts; we concluded, rather, that the jury instructions did not separate political horse trading (Blagojevich’s offer to appoint someone to the Senate in exchange for the President’s promise to appoint him to the Cabinet) from extortion and similar crimes (Blagojevich’s offer to appoint someone to the Senate in exchange for cash). 794 F.3d at 734. The district judge, who presided over two lengthy trials, was free to consider all of the evidence even though the prosecutor elected not to retry these five counts. The district judge also observed that the vacatur did not affect the Guidelines range. Given the standards of Rita, the judge said enough to justify the sentence. […]

According to Blagojevich, McDonnell calls the reasoning of our first decision into question. Not so. The only issue before the Court was whether McDonnell had traded “official acts” for money and other benefits. The Justices considered the definition of “official act” in 18 U.S.C. §201(a)(3) and concluded that McDonnell’s jury had been instructed incor rectly. Blagojevich, by contrast, has never contended that the activities of appointing someone to a vacant seat in the Senate, signing legislation, or the other activities that a jury found he sought to profit from, were not “official acts” of a state’s governor.

Blagojevich’s remaining arguments do not require discussion.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

22 Comments
  1. - Norseman - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 10:40 am:

    Crocodile tears here.


  2. - Not Rich - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 10:52 am:

    Can’t seem to get it thru that thick wad of grey hair into his brain the word : R-E-M-O-R-S-E


  3. - Anonymous - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 10:53 am:

    🎶Hip, Hip, Hooray! !!!!


  4. - Chicago Cynic - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 10:57 am:

    The sentence was way too harsh but “Not Rich” is exactly right. It’s his complete lack of remorse or even acknowledgement that he did wrong that ultimately has killed his chances. Zero sympathy comes to people who have no remorse.


  5. - Rocky Rosi - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 11:00 am:

    I wonder who he upset? The crime doesn’t fit the time.


  6. - Anonymous - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 11:03 am:

    “Who he upset….”. Um, let’s start with the citizens of a declining state called Illinois. Poor, poor ‘Hot Rod’ (self-named). (That alone deserves 14 years).


  7. - Anonymous - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 11:04 am:

    He was given a choice - 14 years or no hairdryer.


  8. - Skeptic - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 11:17 am:

    “Blagojevich’s remaining arguments do not require discussion.” That made me giggle.


  9. - Michelle Flaherty - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 11:18 am:

    When you’re a criminal governor likely to need a friendly appeals court, cutting judicial COLAs is never a good idea.


  10. - barry - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 11:39 am:

    In no other civilized nation, certainly nowhere that English is primarily spoken, would impose such a sentence. How much time would Zagel have given if he actually followed through on his fantasy of “selling” the seat? A judge who would impose a 14 year sentence for this nonsense poses a greater threat to the public than the people he is purportedly protecting us from.


  11. - West Side the Best Side - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 11:58 am:

    The 7th Circuit did note that part of the reason for the sentence was ” … to deter those who hold office today.” That is particularly important in sentencing public figures for acts relating to their public office.


  12. - Amalia - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 12:08 pm:

    it is ridiculous that he is still in prison. the crime does not fit the time.


  13. - Anonymous - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 12:11 pm:

    Ryan got six years, but Blago was undeterred. If another governor is not deterred by Blago’s sentence, the next one should get 20 years until it sinks in that this is unacceptable.


  14. - A guy - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 12:29 pm:

    I maintain that the sentence was a bit too harsh. I also maintain, it is so because of him and his antics. This Judge was not willing to overlook any of his narcissism and arrogance in the first instance, nor was he willing to a couple years later after a lengthy opportunity for reflection. His goofiness had a long and sustaining impression on that Judge. Twice, panels have refused to disagree with that Judge’s reasoning.
    It’s over.
    Rod, get comfortable for the full stay, less some modest time for good behavior. If anyone…anyone, instigates a move to shorten things up, it won’t be you. Make the best of a tough situation.

    I feel a little sympathy for you, but you did this to yourself and everyone you love and loves you. Bitter pill. Swallow.


  15. - Huh? - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 12:44 pm:

    Cue Patty and Amy crying about the unfair decision…


  16. - Anonymous - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 1:37 pm:

    Cue Donald Trump…


  17. - GlimmerGirl - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 1:37 pm:

    To quote his favorite entertainer, I’m all shook up!


  18. - anon2 - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 1:55 pm:

    If he’s rehabilitated, then why does he show no remorse for his crimes?


  19. - DuPage - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 2:03 pm:

    What bothers me is that he was not allowed to present exculpatory evidence at his trial. The prosecution brought in tapes to use as evidence, the defense said they were short clips taken out of context. The defense wanted to play the other parts of the tapes to show the context but were not allowed to do so. The prosecution and judge were hiding something. Even the guilty are supposed to get a fair trial, which he did not get. If there is nothing in those tapes that would have been relevant to his defense, they would release those tapes. Strictly political.


  20. - Northsider - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 2:06 pm:

    Michelle Flaherty @ 11:18:
    Governors have no say over how federal judges get paid.


  21. - Pundent - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 2:36 pm:

    =Even the guilty are supposed to get a fair trial, which he did not get. If there is nothing in those tapes that would have been relevant to his defense, they would release those tapes.=

    So are you suggesting that the prosecutor, presiding judge, and now the appellate court have all conspired against Blagojevich?

    You do realize that there is a very specific manner in which evidence is introduced at trial. If Zagel didn’t follow it the issue would have been front and center in the appeal. It was not.


  22. - Ron - Friday, Apr 21, 17 @ 3:33 pm:

    It is a colossal waste of taxpayer money to keep Blags imprisoned. Fining him and house arrest would have been appropriate.


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