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Illinois ex-Governor Blagojevich asks for retrial in corruption case

Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich [personal website; JURIST news archive, convicted last month of fraud, bribery, and extortion, filed a motion Monday for a retrial. Last month, Blagojevich was convicted [JURIST report] by a jury in the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois [official website] on 17 of counts including attempting to sell the Senate seat. He claims [Chicago Tribune report] that his previous trial was subject to judicial bias and error that undermined his case. The motion, while asserting that the court operated with a "closed mind," criticizes U.S. District Judge James Zagel of not giving proper respect to Blagojevich's testimony after assuring the defense that the testimony would be valued in the case. Blagojevich is currently out on $450,000 bail [Politico report] and faces up to decades in prison. The court is expected to respond to the motion sometime next month.

The jury that convicted Blagojevich remained deadlocked [Chicago Tribune report] on a charge of attempted extortion for solicitation of then-congressman Rahm Emanuel, who served as President Obama's chief of staff before being elected mayor of Chicago. Blagojevich was previously found guilty [JURIST report] last year of making false statements to the FBI, but the jury remained deadlocked on 23 additional charges. The prosecutors dropped some of the charges [JURIST report] to simplify the case for retrial including charges for racketeering. Prosecutors also dropped charges against Blagojevich's brother, his chief fundraiser. Blagojevich had tried to avoid the second trial in March, but Judge Zagel declined to formally rule on his request to cancel the trial [JURIST reports], saying that the motion was neither serious nor did it raise a legal question. Blagojevich's lawyers had submitted a motion [text] to cancel the ex-governor's retrial and sentence him only on the single charge on which he was originally convicted.

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