Blagojevich asks judge to override false statements conviction

[JURIST] Lawyers for former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich [JURIST news archive] filed a motion Monday in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website] asking the judge to throw out the sole conviction returned by the jury during his corruption trial last month. Blagojevich was found guilty [JURIST report] of making false statements to the FBI, but the jury remained deadlocked on the 23 additional charges. The motion stated that the government failed to meet its required burden of proof and that cross-examinations by the defense were plagued by "obstructionist" objections [Chicago Tribune report], which the court continuously sustained. Blagojevich's lawyers also noted that the judge could opt to set aside the verdict [AP report] and set a new trial for the former governor. The charges on which the jury was deadlocked included attempting to sell the Senate seat vacated by US President Barack Obama, making appointments based on anticipated campaign contributions and taking kickbacks from a number of companies.

In June, a federal judge denied a request [JURIST report] to delay the Blagojevich trial in order for his defense lawyers to review a decision by the US Supreme Court [official website] limiting the scope of the federal honest services fraud statute [18 USC § 1346 text]. Zagel held that the trial delay was unnecessary because the Supreme Court's decision in Skilling v. United States [Cornell LII backgrounder; JURIST report] was unlikely to affect Blagojevich's case. In April, the prosecution was ordered [JURIST report] to release a 91-page government proffer outlining evidence in its case against Blagojevich. In March, Blagojevich pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to eight amended corruption charges. In January 2009, the Illinois State Senate voted unanimously [JURIST report] to convict Blagojevich of abuse of power and remove him from office. Blagojevich and his former chief of staff John Harris were initially arrested [JURIST report] in December 2008.

 

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