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Blagojevich loses bid to force prosecutor Fitzgerald from case

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website] on Friday rejected an attempt by former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich [JURIST news archive] to have US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of the US Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Illinois [official website] removed from his federal corruption case. The ruling by Judge James Holderman denied [Bloomberg report] Blagojevich's request to disqualify Fitzgerald from the case. Blagojevich had argued that Fitzgerald should be removed from the case for making biased and inflammatory remarks during a January press conference.

In January, the Illinois State Senate voted unanimously [JURIST report] to convict Blagojevich of abuse of power and remove him from office. Blagojevich is the first Illinois governor to be impeached and removed from office. Earlier that month, the Illinois House of Representatives [official website] voted 114-1 to impeach [JURIST report]. Blagojevich had boycotted [JURIST report] the impeachment proceedings against him, appearing only at the end of the Senate hearings to make a final plea to remain in office. Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris were arrested [JURIST report] in December by federal agents on charges of corruption. Both Blagojevich and Harris have been charged [DOJ press release, PDF] with conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and solicitation of bribery. They are accused of conspiring to sell or trade the senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama, obtaining illegal campaign contributions, and threatening to withhold assistance to the Chicago Tribune with the sale of Wrigley Field unless two editorial writers who had been critical of Blagojevich were fired. Harris resigned his position after the arrest, but Blagojevich refused to resign.

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