Blagojevich asks for new trial date

Will face prosecution only with brother
November 17, 2009 8:36:44 AM PST
In a day of developments, impeached Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich says that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on other pending cases could free him of most of the federal corruption charges against him. Lawyers for Mr. Blagojevich state in a court filing that "Rod reasonably assumes that his June 2010 trial setting will be aborted?Rod suggests that the court consider resetting Rod's trial to a day certain commencing September 2010."

The motion, that refers to Illinois' former governor as Rod, will be presented to Judge James Zagel at a Monday morning hearing. Read the Blagojevich document

Also on Friday, federal prosecutors asked Judge Zagel to drop Springfield power broker William Cellini as a co-defendant in the corruption case against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Cellini would be tried separately, a request his own attorneys have been making for months.

Mr. Cellini is accused of try to shake down Hollywood producer Thomas Rosenberg for either a payoff or a campaign contribution to then-Gov. Blagojevich in exchange for state business.

Stripping Cellini from the main corruption case against Blagojevich means that the disgraced governor will stand trial only with his brother Robert who was campaign fund director when the feds moved in.

The other co-conspirators in the case have all pleaded guilty in the case and are expected to cooperate with the government against the Blagojevich, except for one. Rod Blagojevich's confidante and one-time chief fundraiser Chris Kelly committed suicide last September by overdosing on a lethal concoction that included rat poison.

In Blagojevich's motion filed today, the ex-governor's lawyers reveal defense tactics and how they will attempt to have as many of the charges as possible dismissed before trial.

The crux of several corruption counts in the wide-ranging federal case is the concept of "intangible right to the honest services." In short: that as Illinois governor, Mr. Blagojevich cheated and robbed the public of an honest performance of his duties.

"Rod is devoting substantial time and effort in preparing his defense based on challenges to 'intangible rights-honest services.' Writes Chicago defense lawyer Allan A. Ackerman, the newest attorney on Blagojevich's team.

"While a subsequent filing will challenge the integration of 'intangible rights-honest services,' [District Court-Chicago] will judicially note that the United States Supreme Court has a trio of 'intangible right-honest services' cases on its docket."

Blagojevich's lawyers contend that if the Supreme Court rules that robbing the public of an "intangible right to honest service" is an unconstitutionally vague concept, numerous charges against Illinois' disgraced governor would have to be dropped.

In the 7-page Friday filing, Blagojevich's legal team also notes that the former governor is "entitled to effective assistance of counsel?which translates into adequate time for investigation and preparation?and given the [over] six-year span of the charged conspiracies and substantive counts, blended with millions of pages of disc-generating data, it makes perfect sense for Rod's defense to be able to allocate its pretrial resources to that which the government intends to [attempt] to introduce at trial?rather than 'guessing' which of the millions of pages of disc-generated data have?even marginal importance."

Attorney Ackerman, known as a vigorous and colorful courtroom advocate for his clients, suggests that the Blagojevich legal team could also press for trial delays. "If there is no adequate pretrial disclosures ... then most assuredly the defense would be requesting trial adjournment so that the government witness or witnesses can be effectively confronted and cross-examined?By all accounts, the case at hand, with its multiple counts and defendants, remains confusing and complex."


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