The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

AP story section

December 13, 2013

Judges to hear Blagojevich appeal arguments

CHICAGO — Imprisoned former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich gets what’s likely his last chance today to win his freedom as a three-judge federal panel hears oral arguments in his appeal.

A lawyer for the disgraced Illinois Democrat steps before the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to ask that it toss Blagojevich’s corruption convictions.

Short of that, Blagojevich’s defense team hopes the court will at least agree to reduce his 14-year prison term — one of the longest sentences ever imposed for political corruption in a state where four of the last seven governors ended up in prison.

FBI agents arrested then-Gov. Blagojevich five years ago this week, on Dec. 9, 2008. A jury convicted him of wide-ranging charges in 2011, including for trying to profit from his power to name someone to President Barack Obama’s old U.S. Senate seat.

The onetime contestant on NBC’s “Apprentice” won’t be at today’s hearing in Chicago. He remains behind bars a thousand miles away, now into his second year inside a Colorado prison.

The panel isn’t expected to issue a ruling on Blagojevich’s appeal for at least several weeks. If it goes against him, he could try to appeal to the nation’s highest court, though there’s no guarantee the Supreme Court would even agree to hear his case.

Today’s arguments are an opportunity for judges to fire questions at the defense and prosecution. They’ve already seen the 100-page appeal defense lawyers filed in July and the government’s 169-page response, which was filed last month.

Blagojevich’s appeal includes a laundry list of alleged errors by trial Judge James Zagel. It says he allowed one juror — referred to only as Juror No. 174 — to remain on the panel during the second and decisive trial, even after he said about Blagojevich during jury selection, “I just figured him, possibly, to be guilty.”

The most novel argument in the appeal is that Blagojevich’s bid to secure an ambassadorship or some other high-paying job for himself in exchange for an appointment to the Senate seat was far from being a crime; it was part of run-of-the-mill “political horse-trading.”

 

 

1
Text Only
AP story section
  • State to reopen Juvenile Home DES MOINES -- A district court judge on Wednesday ordered the state to reopen the Iowa Juvenile Home, telling Gov. Terry Branstad he cannot unilaterally change a law approved by the state Legislature. Judge Scott Rosenberg said the home in Toledo was

    February 6, 2014

  • Panel OKs ban on remote abortion pill distribution DES MOINES -- A legislative panel approved a measure Wednesday that would ban the remote distribution of abortion pills, a proposal the bill's sponsor said is intended to delay the procedure and give women more time to change their minds. The subcomm

    February 6, 2014

  • Sioux City gambling group halts local grants SIOUX CITY -- The nonprofit that holds the gambling license for the Argosy Sioux City riverboat casino has voted to temporarily stop sending grants to local charities and government agencies. A legal dispute with the operator of the casino, Penn Nati

    January 15, 2014

  • Davenport pays, apologizes to hearing impaired man DAVENPORT (AP) -- The city of Davenport has issued an unusual apology to a former alderman after a police employee was caught on tape saying that he intentionally knocked softly on the hearing-impaired man's door when responding to a service call. Th

    January 15, 2014

  • Budget Branstad presents budget for next fiscal year DES MOINES -- Gov. Terry Branstad offered a budget proposal Tuesday that includes a tax break for veterans, a tuition freeze for college students and incentives to encourage Internet expansion in rural Iowa, a more modest list of priorities one year

    January 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Gov. restores more felons' voting rights IOWA CITY (AP) -- Gov. Terry Branstad restored voting rights to more felons in 2013 than the prior two years combined, but thousands of others remain disenfranchised under a 2011 policy change. Data released by the governor's office to The Associated

    January 15, 2014

  • Man fatally shot at Fla. theater over texting WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (AP) -- A 71-year-old retired police officer accused of shooting a man dead in a Florida movie theater told authorities that "he was in fear of being attacked" during Monday's confrontation. Curtis Reeves is charged with second-de

    January 15, 2014

  • Iowa Senator: Congress must confirm election board DES MOINES -- An Iowa senator asked a U.S. Senate committee Wednesday to confirm appointees to a federal election commission so a decision can be made about whether Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz is properly using money for voter-fraud investig

    January 9, 2014

  • School Discipline Gov't: End overly zealous discipline in schools WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Obama administration is urging schools to abandon overly zealous discipline policies that civil rights advocates have long said lead to a school-to-prison pipeline that discriminates against minority students. The wide-ranging

    January 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Governor, lawmakers set modest goals for 2014 DES MOINES -- After reaching bipartisan agreements on several major policy initiatives last year, Gov. Terry Branstad said Wednesday that he is setting more modest expectations for the 2014 legislative session. Speaking at The Associated Press' annua

    January 9, 2014

AP Video
Facebook
National News