* 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.