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Last ditch appeal by Blagojevich

Wednesday, Apr 19, 2017

* ABC 7

Attorneys for Rod Blagojevich appeared in federal appellate court Tuesday in Chicago to argue that the imprisoned ex-governor should have his 14-year sentence reduced. […]

The hearing follows Blagojevich’s resentencing last August when a lower court judge gave him the same 14-year prison he imposed at the initial sentencing in 2011. Blagojevich was convicted of abusing his power, including an attempt to sell the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by Barack Obama.

On Tuesday, lawyers asked for a new sentencing hearing, saying that the previous judge didn’t take into consideration the dozens of letters from fellow inmates about the good work he has been doing in prison.

“It’s an argument the government keeps raising that he’s not truly remorseful. It’s interesting because the government prosecuted him. The reason we’re back here is because the government prosecuted him for something that wasn’t a crime, something that in the history of this country has never been prosecuted and has been done throughout history as the appellate court found,” his lawyer Leonard Goodman said outside court.

* Tribune

In a signal of how high the legal hurdle is for Blagojevich, the same panel of judges who ruled in 2015 that the ex-governor’s sentence was reasonable — Frank Easterbrook, Michael Kanne and Ilana Rovner — heard the arguments again this time around. For the case to break Blagojevich’s way, those judges would have to decide that their previous ruling was erroneous.

After court, Goodman acknowledged that the chances were dimming for Blagojevich, whose only other recourse should the 7th Circuit decide against him would be to petition the U.S. Supreme Court for a hearing — a move that would be considered a legal long shot at best since the high court already passed on taking up the case last year. […]

In its first ruling in 2015, the 7th Circuit threw out five counts involving the Senate seat on technical grounds. But the court tempered the small victory for Blagojevich by calling the evidence against him “overwhelming” and making it clear that the original sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge James Zagel was not out of bounds. Zagel’s decision in August to resentence Blagojevich to the original 14 years means he’s still slated to remain in prison until May 2024.

In the latest appeal in December, Goodman and co-counsel Michael Nash argued Zagel ignored key evidence presented at the resentencing, including dozens of letters written by fellow inmates about Blagojevich’s character and leadership in the federal prison camp outside Denver.

* Sun-Times

Nearly all of the questions from the three-judge panel Tuesday came from Rovner, who dwelled on the letters and Zagel’s decision to credit Blagojevich with acceptance of responsibility in 2011 and 2016. She said Blagojevich has “conducted himself admirably in prison,” as described in the letters.

“And perhaps this is something that a different judge would give, you know, more weight to,” Rovner said.

But she also asked whether Zagel was required to do so.

* AP

Ilana Diamond Rovner, one of the three 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges who heard the arguments, suggested Blagojevich might have gotten a lesser sentence from a different trial judge.

A prosecutor told the panel that Judge James Zagel was right to stand by the original sentence because Blagojevich, 60, has never admitted serious wrongdoing.

“There’s nothing anywhere where the defendant says, ‘I apologize for putting my own personal interests ahead of the interests of the public I was charged with serving,’” Debra Bonamici said. […]

Outside court later Tuesday, Blagojevich attorney Leonard Goodman said an unqualified apology would contradict his client’s position that he never crossed legal lines.

* NBC 5

“It’s ironic that the government is saying that he’s not truly remorseful,” Goodman said. “I’d like to see some of that remorse from the government, for putting him through that and putting his family through that!”

Yeah, that’ll happen.

- Posted by Rich Miller   15 Comments      


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