Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich [JURIST news archive] on Wednesday asked a federal judge to cancel his retrial [motion to dismiss] and sentence him on the single charge on which was originally convicted. Blagojevich was found guilty [JURIST report] last year of making false statements to the FBI, but the jury remained deadlocked on 23 additional charges. In the motion to dismiss the new trial, Blagojevich's lawyers argued that economic reasons make a second trial "imprudent":
To date, defense counsel have been working on the Blagojevich case for almost nine months without pay. This has caused a significant hardship and has deprived Blagojevich of his right to effective assistance of counsel as required by the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution. ... Based upon the economic hardships, the inequities and the unnecessary drain on taxpayer funds (funds may not even exist in the future), this case should be dismissed. The Court can proceed immediately to sentencing on the conviction from the first trial.Blagojevich has always maintained his innocence, and the false statements charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Last month, a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website] granted federal prosecutors' motion to dismiss three charges [JURIST report] against Blagojevich in an apparent effort to simply their case before the April 20 retrial. In Blagojevich's first trial, the jury deliberated for 14 days after the 11-week trial but was unable to reach a consensus on all but one of the charges. In September, lawyers for Blagojevich asked the judge to throw out the sole conviction, stating that the government failed to meet its required burden of proof, but the judge refused [JURIST reports]. In January 2009, the Illinois State Senate voted unanimously to convict Blagojevich of abuse of power and remove him from office [JURIST report]. Blagojevich and his former chief of staff John Harris were initially arrested [JURIST report] in December 2008.