Rod Blagojevich’s attempted appeal of his corruption conviction doesn’t look like it’s going to hold water. Prosecuters, in a lengthy 169 page response, balk at the idea that Blagojevich’s shenanigans were just ordinary “political horse-trading”.
Prosecutors rebutt this theory and more in the document, which is in response to the Democrat’s July appeal with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, according to the Denver Post.
In the appeal, that ran 100 pages, defense attorneys for Blagojevich claim he engaged in a legal “political horse-trade”. He floated the idea of a Cabinet seat or possibly an ambassadorship for himself if he were to appoint Obama confidant Valerie Jarrett to Obama’s vacated seat.
The appeal seeks a new trial, or at least a reduction for what it deems a disproportionate sentence for Blagojevich’s crimes. They allege the main cause of his heavy-handed conviction to be, in large, the errors of U.S. District Judge James Zagel. One of these major errors, they say, was allowing a biased juror to sit on the panel during Blagojevich’s second trial. The appeal refers to him as Juror No. 174, noting that he said something questionable about Blagojevich during jury selection: “I just figured him, possibly, to be guilty.”
“Juror 174 told the court he believed he could do that and stated that he would do that,” prosecutors said. “Nothing in the juror’s comments suggested that he had ‘an irrational or unshakeable bias.'”
The prosecution strongly disagrees with the juror claim, and points out that it is beside the point, anyway. “This is an extraordinary claim,” the government filing says. “No matter the price he charges, a public official who sells his office engages in crime, not politics.”
According to the Christian Science Monitor, Shari Seidman Diamond, a law professor at the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, says that the difficulty is convincing the appeals court that he was not aware that pay-to-play is a crime, especially because he was an attorney himself.
“There’s a difference between being aware of the acts you’re doing and the goals you’re trying to accomplish and being aware there’s a statute that forbids it. I think it’s very plausible he was and very hard to believe he wasn’t,” Diamond says.
Very hard to believe, indeed.
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