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Supreme Court denies Blagojevich trial delay request

The US Supreme Court [official website] on Friday denied a request by former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich [JURIST news archive] to delay the start of his corruption trial by 30 days. Blagojevich had sought to postpone the start of his trial in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website] until the Supreme Court issues opinions in cases involving the federal honest services fraud statute [18 USC § 1346 text], arguing that it would be unfair to proceed with the trial if the Supreme Court were to declare the law unconstitutional. The statute is currently being challenged by former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling [JURIST news archives] as unconstitutionally vague in Skilling v. United States [JURIST report], and its application forms the basis of the appeals brought by former media mogul Conrad Black [CBC profile; JURIST news archive] in Black v. United States and former Alaska legislator Bruce Weyhrauch in Weyhrauch v. United States [JURIST reports]. Justice John Paul Stevens upheld a May decision by the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit [official website,] which denied the request [JURIST report] without issuing a written order.

In April, the prosecution was ordered to release [JURIST report] a 91-page government proffer outlining evidence in its case against Blagojevich. According to the proffer, Blagojevich tried to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama, made appointments based on anticipated campaign contributions, and took kickbacks from a number of companies. In March, Blagojevich pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to eight amended corruption charges. In January 2009, the Illinois State Senate voted unanimously to convict Blagojevich of abuse of power and remove him from office [JURIST report], making him the first Illinois governor to be impeached and removed from office. Blagojevich and his chief of staff John Harris were initially arrested [JURIST report] in December 2008 on allegations that they had conspired to sell the Senate seat.

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